Captain Richards excited by new campaign
Friday, 14 August, 2009
Micah Richards is looking forward to the qualifers after captaining the U21s
Manchester City defender Micah Richards was delighted to lead his country out against Holland this week and is excited about the new campaign with a new crop of Under-21s.
England drew 0-0 in Groningen on Tuesday night with Richards being named captain for the game in what was his tenth cap at that level.
Having previously skippered his club, the experience wasn’t new to the 21-year-old. And with a 60-minute run-out under his belt as the Premier League season heads for its first weekend, he’s pleased to have added to his match fitness.
“It’s was really nice to be given the armband,” he told TheFA.com just after the match. “At City when Richard Dunne was not playing I was skipper then, so it’s a position I’m familiar with and it’s always nice to captain the side. It’s an honour to captain my country and it’s good to see the manager has faith in me.
“I’m still recovering from the bout of swine flu. I’ve had two 90 minutes in pre-season with City, and to come here and get another hour here is great preparation for Saturday. I’m feeling good and being back involved with the Under-21s is great.
“I was always due to play 60 minutes, I took some bumps and bruises but that’s part of the game and it’s good getting a game of football at this stage of the season. It helps the preparation for our first game against Blackburn.”
And a draw away against the Dutch was seen as a good result by Richards. A clean sheet and some positive displays from a number of the new faces in Pearce’s squad provided a promising start to the new season. “It was hard, you could tell we’d not played together as a team before, and it was a bit patchy at times.
“We’re happy keeping the clean sheet and with myself and Gibbsy (Kieran Gibbs) coming off it could have changed it a bit, but I though Mancienne and Tomkins did superbly at the back together. Hopefully they can form a good partnership.
“Over the last two years, we’ve always been a team that doesn’t concede that many goals and we want to continue that and it can only set us in good stead for the qualifiers.”
Richards also praised the performance of Aston Villa new boy Fabien Delph, who was making his second appearance for Stuart Pearce’s men, and liked the look of other players who have some big shoes to fill.
“I thought Fabien did well, it’s going to be hard for him adapting to the Premier League coming from Leeds, but I don’t think it’ll faze him. He was outstanding in midfield tonight and I’m expecting him to make the step up.
“Daniel Sturridge when he came on looked tricky and Jack Wilshere has been raved about of late and you know he’s a quality player. So there are a number of players who can come in and fill people’s roles and it’s all about getting to the championship again in two years.
“It’s not nice to compare the players coming in to the previous squad members, but I think they can do just as good a job. Obviously the Aaron Lennons, Tom Huddlestones, James Milners, Gabby Agbonlahors, players like that, are going to be missed, but we’ve got some very good talent coming through.
“Hopefully after we’ve played a few more games we’ll gel a bit more.”
And Richards is now looking ahead to the first two away qualifiers for the 2011 Championship coming up next month against Macedonia and Greece.
He added: “The season would have kicked in and we’ll be fully fit, so I’m excited by the new campaign.”
To follow the Under-21s throughout the new campaign, log on to TheFA.com/England, or become a Fan of the team on Facebook .