Micah Richards: Defender says England call-up came too soon

By Ben SmithBBC Sport
Richards would 'love' England chance

Micah Richards says he was too young to play for England when he made his international debut aged just 18 and believes he is "10 times better" now.

The Manchester City defender, now 26, is on loan at Italian side Fiorentina.

"Sometimes, when English players do well at a young age, they get thrown in and get spat back out three of four years later," said Richards.

"I was brought through too young. If you put me in an England shirt now, I'd be 10 times better than I was."

In an interview with BBC's Football Focus, he explained: "I had a couple of good seasons with City but, positionally, I wasn't good enough. Technically, I was not international standard.

Micah Richards
Richards played a part of the Manchester City team that won the Premier League in 2012

"I was using my pace and power to get me out of trouble."

Richards made his England debut against the Netherlands in November 2006, becoming his country's youngest defender in the process.

The Birmingham-born player was a regular under then England boss Steve McClaren but found himself out of favour when Italian Fabio Capello took over the national team in 2008.

The last of the defender's 13 England appearances came in February 2012, again against the Dutch, but he has not figured once under new manager Roy Hodgson.

Richards says he would "love to play for England again" but does not expect Hodgson to come out to watch him play in Italy.

Micah Richards
Age: 26 (Birmingham, 24/6/88)
Height: 5ft 11in (1.80m)
Professional debut: 22/10/05, v Arsenal, Premier League
Full international debut: 15/11/06 v Holland
Manchester City appearances: 245 (9 goals in all competitions)
England appearances: 13 (1 goal)
Richards was also part of the 2012 Olympic squad

"If he decides to come out here, then good luck to him," said Richards. "If he doesn't, then I will do what I have to do."

Richards said he felt he always performed well for the national side but queried the selection process.

"Some players get to a stage when they haven't played for a couple of years and then they don't pick them again," he said.

"They are always looking for the next new thing, which sometimes I don't always see as right.

"Players should be picked on performance. Sometimes England think: 'Let's bring in the young new player and hype them up'."

Watch Football Focus on BBC One on Saturday from 12:10 GMT (BBC Two in Scotland).

Roberto Mancini and Micah Richards

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