Richards targeting England return

The 22-year-old, who first played for England almost four years

ago, captained the Under-21s in defeat to Greece the same day the

senior side played Egypt. Although honoured to lead England’s youth

stars on the pitch, he confesses to higher aspirations. Richards

says his aim, now, is to work at breaking into the senior squad in

the hope that he may join England’s stars in South Africa. And,

with the World Cup fast approaching, he knows now that he must be

at his best at club level for City if he is to achieve that

international target. Richards says that it is disappointing and

frustrating to learn that veteran defender Gary Neville is perhaps

favoured over himself, despite the City star stealing his place

three years ago. He also admits a certain sadness at missing out on

England’s Euro 2008 campaign despite his efforts in the build up to

the tournament. “It’s definitely frustrating and every time the

full squad’s named and I’m not in there I’m devastated, because I

know with my ability that I think I should be,” he told The

Independent. “If you look at my England career, I’ve played 11

times and in all those games I think I’ve done reasonably well. “I

could watch them over and over again, and it was just the

disappointment of not going to the [2008] Euros.” Richards’ talent

was noticed at an early age on the international scene, having been

awarded his first cap at the age of 17 against Holland. The best he

has achieved under Capello, though, is a slot on the bench in the

Italian’s first ever game in charge. Asked why he thinks Capello

favours the likes of Wes Brown and Glen Johnson over himself,

Richards said: “I don’t know, I can’t comment on that. “He is the

boss and he makes the final decisions.” He added: When the time is

right I will be in there. “I’ve dropped down to the Under-21s to

learn my trade a bit more before I’m thrown back in. “It is my

dream. I’ll keep working hard and see what happens.”