Richards approaching Manchester City return after five-month injury lay-off

The defender suffered cartilage damage in October, but is nearing a comeback thanks to a gruelling rehabilitation routine and has rejected claims he is prone to such setbacks

Manchester City defender Micah Richards is nearing his return from injury and has eyed a possible double-header against Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Richards damaged cartilage in October against Swansea City and has since undergone a lengthy rehabilitation, with an initial return date pencilled in for February.

The 24-year-old, City’s longest-serving player, is approaching full fitness and is hoping to be ready to appear in the Premier League game with rivals United on April 8 as well as the FA Cup semi-final against the Red Devils or Chelsea less than a week later.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Richards said: “In the last ten days I’ve been training outside again, doing two days of running and then a recovery day after that.

“I had a big fitness session on Tuesday and I’m starting to feel really good again so when the lads are back from international duty, I should be taking part in partial sessions with them as I continue to close in on a return

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“I’ll be trying my best to get back into the squad and it will be great just to be back among the lads and getting a feel for everything again.”

The England international has suffered several injuries throughout his career but waved off suggestions he is injury prone.

He continued: “I’ve only had one full season injury free but I wouldn’t say I was injury prone at all. I think it’s more to do with the way I go in for headers and tackles – 100% every time - it’s what makes me the player I am and I would find it hard to play any other way.

“I’ve really missed the banter because I’ve been doing virtual office hours of 9 to 5 while I’ve been working my way back to fitness which, I know, are normal hours for most people but for a footballer, we usually are finished for 1pm so I’ve been working really hard to get back.

“I don’t expect to just walk back into the team because the lads have all been playing so well, especially at the back, but I want to finish strongly and then really power into next season after having a full pre-season training behind me. I can’t wait to start playing again.”