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The defender was given the all-clear to resume training earlier this week following a hamstring strain last weekend and is expected to return against Manchester United

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Manchester City defender Micah Richards is winning his battle to be fit for Monday night's derby showdown with Manchester United, has learned.

The City defender missed his side's 2-0 victory over Wolves at Molineux on Sunday due to a hamstring problem.

However, tests showed he was suffering from a tight hamstring rather than a tear and understands that Richards was given the all-clear to resume training earlier in the week after a few days’ rest.

Richards was outstanding for City in their 6-1 victory at Manchester United last October and he is expected to get the nod to start at right-back in the return fixture, ahead of Pablo Zabaleta, if Roberto Mancini is convinced he is fully fit.

The versatile Zabaleta has filled in at right-back for City’s last two matches, convincing wins at Norwich City and Wolves, but Richards’ power, athleticism and attacking abilities make him more of an offensive weapon than the Argentine.

Richards’ form had tailed off since the first half of the season but he has been a key figure in the team’s title challenge since.

The 23-year-old has started 23 of City’s 35 league fixtures and was recalled to the England squad by caretaker boss Stuart Pearce in February after being frozen out under Fabio Capello.

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