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The England international has been sidelined recently with a hamstring strain, but could be set to return to the starting lineup in time for the title decider

Manchester City defender Micah Richards says there is a "real buzz" amongst the squad ahead of the derby game against Manchester United.

As Goal.com exclusively revealed on Thursday, Richards is set to return to the starting line-up against the champions - after winning his fitness battle following a spell out with a hamstring injury - and the right back is raring to go.

"Because United have always been better than us and have always had the bragging rights, it just makes it a little bit more special," he told the club's official website. "I've played against them since I was part of the Under-14s and they've always been better at every level. We're not quite there yet, though we're slowly, but surely catching up.

"The players who have just come in didn't really know what the derby in Manchester was all about - they're getting it now, though!

"Everyone wants to beat United because it's a huge game and there's never been a better time for this."

City trails the Red Devils by three points ahead of the clash at Etihad Stadium but will go top by virtue of its superior goal difference with a win.

The Manchester-born defender expressed his belief that his side will grab the initiative in the title race with victory but urged caution given the previous encounters between the sides.

"If we win it really is in our hands," he continued.  "We don't want to get complacent. We went 2-0 up in the Community Shield, we didn't really play well and they came back and won the game.

"I want us to put in a real hard-working performance and really deserve to win it. It's not going to be as easy as everyone thinks, they've been there and done it and they want it as much as we do.

"That's what makes it more interesting. I can't wait and there is a real buzz around the place - it's going to be some game."

The fullback remained coy on his own chances of returning straight to the starting XI in place of Pablo Zabaleta but revealed he is likely to be fit.

"Whether I'm going to be involved or not I don't know. I had full training on Wednesday and it was fine," he added.

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