Richards aiming for Brazil
Manchester City defender Micah Richards has set his sights on winning the England right-back spot ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
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2. Micah Richards
Richards has endured an injured-ravaged season at the Etihad Stadium but is determined to get back to his best next term and help England qualify for Brazil.
The 24-year-old is now back in action after lengthy lay-offs for ankle and knee problems and made only his sixth start of the season as City beat West Brom.
Richards has won 13 caps but was frequently overlooked by former manager Fabio Capello and missed out on Euro 2012 amid confusion over whether he was on Roy Hodgson's standby list or not.
He did earn a place in the Great Britain Olympic squad but it was then his latest injury problems began.
Richards said: "Hopefully next season I will be injury-free and I can show everyone what I can do.
"It's a big challenge and it's a World Cup year.
"Every Englishman wants to be there. I look at my competition there and, in all honesty, I don't see players better than me.
"Hopefully, given a chance, I can do something there as well.
"I feel I am good enough to be around that set-up. It is about being given a chance."
Liverpool's Glen Johnson is Hodgson's current first choice in the position while Kyle Walker of Tottenham is also highly favoured.
Another Liverpool player, Martin Kelly, was selected for Euro 2012 instead of Richards after it was reported the City man had refused to be put on standby.
There may have been a breakdown in communication over that matter but Richards is not letting it bother him now.
He said: "He had a hard decision to make in the summer when Johnson was playing fantastic.
"I was a little bit surprised when Kyle Walker didn't go injured and I didn't get the call. I was on standby.
"But that's how it goes. I can only prove them wrong by playing well and I have got to be playing in this team (City) before I can think about England. I have to take it one step at a time."
Richards, in only his fourth match back after the ankle problem, went down with a serious knee injury playing against Swansea in October and required an operation.
He did not return to action until last month's game against Wigan, after which manager Roberto Mancini suggested he was still not in good condition.
It seemed a harsh assessment by the Italian after such a long absence but Richards was much happier with his performance in the 1-0 defeat of the Baggies.
He said: "To be fair, I'd only played 90 minutes, and 60 minutes at centre-half with the reserves.
"You know the running you have got to do in this team at full-back is hard, and I did find it hard.
"Obviously I've got some more fitness now, I feel a little bit sharper than my first time out."
Richards impressed last season but had to share right-back duties with Pablo Zabaleta as Mancini preferred to rotate the pair.
This term, with another option in Maicon also out for long spells, Zabaleta has seemingly made the place his own with performances that have arguably been City's best player this season.
Richards was made captain against West Brom as Mancini rested several players ahead of this Saturday's FA Cup final against Wigan but he accepts he is unlikely to play at Wembley.
He said: "I've not played any part in the FA Cup this season, so to play or even be on the bench I think would be harsh on the lads who have worked hard this season to get there.
"I'll be there supporting them. I'll travel down with the boys and wish them all the best. I think they deserve it.
"We haven't played the best football this season, like we did last, but I think we definitely deserve to win the FA Cup."
City have announced they will play two additional pre-season friendlies in South Africa this summer. They will play two South African domestic sides on July 14 and 18 before heading to Hong Kong for the Barclays Asia Trophy and then taking part in the Audi Cup in Munich.