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Manchester City remain confident that the England defender will commit his long-term future to the club, despite the north East outfit's ambition to lure him to St James' Park

By Paul Clennam

Newcastle United have made an informal enquiry about the possibility of signing Manchester City defender Micah Richards, Goal understands.

The 25-year-old has yet to sign a new deal at City and is seeking assurances from Manuel Pellegrini over his role before committing to the club long-term.

Richards, who became disillusioned with life at the Etihad Stadium under Roberto Mancini at the end of last season, has under two years remaining on his £60,000-a-week contract at City and club insiders insist they are “desperate” to keep hold of him.

City slapped a £15 million price tag on the defender ahead of the summer transfer window, but the sacking of Mancini and arrival of Pellegrini saw him stay in east Manchester and the club still expect him to sign a long-term deal in the coming months.

However Newcastle, who signed a right-back in Mathieu Debuchy from Lille in January, believe a guarantee of regular first-team football could tempt the England international to St James’ Park.

Richards has privately indicated to City officials that he is happy to rotate with first-choice right-back Pablo Zabaleta, but fears being sidelined after failing to make a single Premier League appearance so far this term.

The defender struggled on his last first-team appearance under Pellegrini, as City were dominated in a 3-1 defeat to European champions Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month.

Richards moved to City from Oldham’s academy setup as a 14-year-old in 2005 and remains a popular member of the squad, especially among the club’s first-team English contingent of Joe Hart, James Milner, Jack Rodwell and Joleon Lescott.

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