Former England international, Micah Richards is on the verge of making a return to the Aston Villa first team, having been sidelined for almost two years.

Richards has not made a single appearance for The Lions since October 2016 and had been placed on a special training regime to help ease his return to the side and improve his fitness after a persistent knee injury.

The 30 year old was frozen out of the team by former Villa manager Steve Bruce and the new manager, Dean Smith has refused to offer any assurances of Richard’s place in the first team. It’s a far cry from when fans were piling onto this this site to buy tickets to see him in action for Manchester City, when he was a key player in a side fighting for the title.

Speaking in an interview, Smith said, “Micah has not played for a long time so he’s not near fitness to be in contention at all at the moment. We’ll see how his fitness builds over the next month or two”. He also explained that the experienced defender has been put on a special programme to get some training minutes he has not had in a while to try to help return his body to full fitness.

Richards initially impressed after arriving from Manchester City on a free transfer in the summer of 2015 but has since hit a rough patch as Villa suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2016.

The reason former manager, Steve Bruce kept Richards out of the first team for so long remains a debate, with sources alleging that the persistent knee problem has been a major threat to his career and kept him out of the team.

Richard’s contract at Aston Villa, which is said to be worth £25,000, runs out at the end of the season.

Micah Lincoln Richards is an English professional footballer who currently plays as a centre-back for Championship club side Aston Villa. After making his international debut for the England national team in November 2006, he became the youngest defender to be called up to the England squad.