Roberto Mancini’s desire to have at least a two-man battle for places all over the pitch this season is already bearing fruit.
The boss has embarked on a deliberate policy to create more competition within the City squad in the belief that it will be one of the factors that will enable a push into the top four and the landing of silverware.
And Micah Richards for one has accepted the challenge posed by Jerome Boateng and Pablo Zabaleta.
In Saturday night’s final warm up match of the season, England international Richards and his German counterpart Boateng – they faced each other in the European under 21 championship final not long ago – swapped positions between right back to central defence in what was a pre-planned move by manager Mancini.
“The boss wanted Jerome to play in both positions and I think he did well in each of them,” praised Richards.
“He is like me; he can play happily in both so I can see a battle ahead! We are around the same age and I am sure we can spur one another along.
I want to fight for my place here and I think this pre-season has gone quite well for me.
“I am well up for the challenge of what lies ahead. There have been lots of things said and written about my future at City this summer but I think from the effort I have put in during training and in the pre-season games that it is evident to everyone that I want to stay at City.
“It does affect your concentration when you are consistently linked with a move away or people e are talking about you being replaced - especially as I have been here for so long.
“Sometimes you get a bit down when these things are constantly being said and I play best when I am happy and confident which I am at the moment.”