Richards: Lack of fitness showed in Manchester City comeback

The defender made his first appearance after a long spell out and felt his tiredness was evident, while ex-team-mate Nigel de Jong said Mario Balotelli is "doing well" at AC Milan
Micah Richards has called for patience from fans as he tries to regain full fitness after making his first appearance for Manchester City in five months against Wigan.

City won the game 1-0, but manager Roberto Mancini was not kind with his post-match appraisal; revealing he "did not like" the right-back's display and insisted he "needs to work a lot".

And the 24-year-old himself hinted that fatigue may have caught up with him towards the end of the game, but says he still enjoyed being involved once after a long injury layoff.

12/1 Micah Richards is 12/1 with William Hill to score at anytime v Tottenham
"It felt good to be back," he told the club's official website. "I was tired after about 65 minutes and I think it showed towards the end, but I was delighted to be back with the boys. We got the win, and that's the most important."

The reigning champions were somewhat fortunate to secure all three points, owing thanks to a late Carlos Tevez winner, and Richards admitted their opponents probably deserved something from the tie.

"We didn't play the best football," he continued. "I think you've got to give credit to Wigan. They were probably the best team on the night - they passed the ball better.

"There were a few tired legs from Wembley, it's a big pitch and we looked a bit sluggish at times but we got the three points and that's all that matters."

Former City midfielder Nigel De Jong - who has been out with an Achilles injury since December - was at the Etihad Stadium to watch his ex-team-mates on Wednesday night.

The Dutchman joined Italian giants AC Milan in the summer and, while he lamented the loss of many experienced players, he is looking forward to his future with the club.

"[It's] very good," he said. "We've got a good squad at the minute, a really young squad. We're doing okay, it's going well and we need to build for the future.

"We just have to be patient, we lost a lot of players at the beginning of the season. We still have quality players now and I've been reunited with Mario [Balotelli], that's always fun."

And when asked if he is looking after the former City striker, the 28-year-old answered: "That's hard to do you know."

"I'm a dad myself so I have two kids to look after. No, he's okay. I've got to give credit to him, he's doing very well as a person and a player. I'm very happy he's with us at the moment."