Micah Richards has shrugged off a debilitating dose of Swine Flu and is now ready to help the Blues leave their Premier League rivals cold!
The sick England defender was confined to his bed and a holiday villa for the best part of a week and missed the pre-season tour to South Africa but hopes to be back in the squad to face Barnsley on Saturday and the two Glasgow giants in the final week before the big kick-off.
And the former Academy graduate, who celebrated his 21st birthday last month, is ready for the inflated expectations that will be placed on him and his team mates after a summer of high profile arrivals at the City of Manchester Stadium. He believes a top six slot is not just a possibility but a must.
“We have made some unbelievably good signings and I am sure expectation levels will be higher but I am looking forward to it, feeling good and raring to go. The first challenge is getting into the side,” beamed the fully recovered defender. “No one is sure of a place if they are not playing well.
“There are a lot of household names here now but the youngsters like me, Nedum, Stephen Ireland – who was brilliant last season – and Michael Johnson are determined to push them hard.
“These are exciting times and the young lads who have come through the system will not let it faze them. Expectations will be raised in the dressing room as well as outside it.”
Richards admits he has been as bemused as City fans at some of the criticism that has been thrown at the Blues this summer but reckons that could be because other clubs and their fans are now more wary of the threat posed by Mark Hughes’ side.
“There has been a lot of criticism that we have been spending money for no reason but the top clubs have had big money to spend for years,” he concluded. “It is always going to be hard when you are spending money. People will be in your ear but the best way to answer critics is through results on the pitch. A top six finish is definitely realistic and with the players that we have now I think it is a must.”
*Join us on mcfc.co.uk tomorrow to watch an extended, exclusive, video interview with Micah who talks about his eventful summer.