Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini challenges Micah Richards to secure permanent England role

The Blues boss believes the right back must improve to beat competition from Tottenham’s Kyle Walker & Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, while the Italian coach targets enhanced away form

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has challenged Micah Richards to continue improving his game to secure a permanent right back berth for England.

The 23-year-old defender, who is a regular starter for the Blues, rarely played during Capello’s four years in charge of the Three Lions.

However, with a new incumbent to the job before Euro 2012 commences, the Etihad Stadium manager urged his fullback to work hard to beat Kyle Walker or Glen Johnson into the England squad.

“Micah has everything to become a top full-back,” Mancini told reporters on Friday. “I think he has improved a lot in the last year but he can still improve, he can do better.

“At this moment for the national team, probably Johnson or Walker are better. But I don't want to say Micah can't play for the national team - if he wants, Micah can play always. If one England manager has a choice of three – Johnson, Walker, Micah – one of these players stays out.

“Micah played for England with Capello but there are a lot of players in England and one manager can call only 20-22 for a European Championship. I think Micah can really be a top full-back but he needs to improve.”

Looking towards the weekend’s trip to Aston Villa, the Italian also defended the Citizens recent away form, having collected just two points on their travels in their last five league games.

“It is impossible to win away always, like we did at the start of the season," said the Italian whose team, by contrast, have a 100% home league record. “You can win away but sometimes you can lose these games. Away games are difficult, not only for us, for all the teams. But until now we are top – we have done better than the other teams, away and at home.

“There are some games you lose away that you deserve to lose, but I don't think we deserved to lose any game away. If you go away and deserve to lose 3-0 it is different but never did any team deserve to beat us away.”

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