Argentine striker apologised to Roberto Mancini earlier this week and has rejoined training but his team-mate insists he must work hard to earn forgiveness from the fans
Last season's top goalscorer has incurred fines believed to be up to £9.2 million after spending time in Argentina following his refusal to warm up during a Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.
However, Richards believe that the temperamental forward could prove a huge boost upon his return as City look to secure a first Premier League title.
“Before all this went on with Tevez he was outstanding,” he said.
“Last season he was inspirational and he can bring that back to us.
“I know we've got a lot of players doing well like Sergio [Aguero] and Edin [Dzeko] scoring again, so it will be hard because I'm sure the other strikers will be thinking they've done well but now Tevez is going to come back and play I'm sure the manager will sort it out. It is some firepower isn't it?
"It is a massive boost for us. He's been out a long time but he's still a quality player, it's just down to fitness."
The full-back could not guarantee a positive reception for the Argentine from the club's fans, though, saying he would have to help to bring success in order for that to happen.
"It's probably 50-50. It's not really for me to comment," he added.
“The best thing he can do is come back, get his head down and if we do end up winning the league and he's played a massive part in that then I'm sure everyone will forgive him.
"If we don't then it could be the opposite. It's a mixed feeling really, but for me as a player I'm glad to have him back because he's an outstanding player.
“He was our captain and leader, not only on the ball but off the ball as well, working hard, closing people down.
“He was a real nightmare to play against and to have that back in our team would be a boost.
“He's got something that maybe the other strikers don't have. Not in terms of ability but just knowing what the Premier League is like."
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