Tim Sherwood believes Micah Richards' Aston Villa form warrants England recall - but is he right?

Micah Richards

The 27-year-old defender earned the last of his 13 international caps back in February 2012.

After enjoying a successful start to Aston Villa career, is Micah Richards worthy of an England recall?

Having already been named team captain, his manager certainly thinks so.

Speaking about the 27-year-old centre-back ahead of Saturday’s trip to Liverpool, Villa boss Tim Sherwood told his pre-match press conference: “The best player who we brought in [during the summer] has without doubt been Micah Richards.

“But we never bought him – we got him for nothing! He’s been a revelation and, if our results had mirrored his performances, he would certainly be in contention for an England call-up.”

Signed on a four-year deal in the summer after his contract at Manchester City expired, Richards has since made a seamless transition from right-back to centre-half at Villa Park.

Handed the armband before the start of the season following Fabian Delph’s departure for his old club, the Birmingham-born defender has so far started all six Premier League games and put up some outstanding statistics in the process.

 2015-16 Premier League TeamTotal Tackles MINSTackles AccuracyTotal Clearances MINSHeaders Won MINSHeader SuccessInterceptions MINSPassing AccuracyBall Recoveries MINSAppearancesMins Played
Micah Richards Aston Villa 38.57 79% 12.56 27 71% 30 85% 14.59 6 540
John Stones Everton 41.54 85% 21.6 45 60% 38.57 89% 12.56 6 540
Chris Smalling Man Utd 49.09 64% 11.25 27 59% 38.57 86% 14.21 6 540
Phil Jagielka Everton 90 67% 10.8 27 65% 31.76 80% 16.36 6 540
Gary Cahill Chelsea 197 100% 18.76 21.89 78% 43.78 85% 24.63 5 394

In fact, the City academy graduate’s numbers easily rivals those of England regulars Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Chris Smalling, suggesting that Sherwood would not be far wrong to declare that a first call-up since 2012 is deserved.

While Villa sit in 17th-place after taking just four points from their opening half-dozen top-flight fixtures, the 13-times capped stopper has still managed to stand out as a colossus on the backline, recording 2.33 tackles, 3 interceptions, 7.17 clearances and 6.17 recoveries per game, as well as winning 3.33 aerial duels – stats which put right up there with the nation’s best.

Of course, Richards' ability was never really in doubt, even after falling out of favour at City before spending last season out on loan at Fiorentina, where he featured 19 times across all competitions.

The physical defender made almost 250 appearances for his boyhood club after earning his first-team debut in October 2005, aged just 17, and was a core member of Roberto Mancini’s 2011-12 title-winning side before a slew of injuries saw him lose his starting job to Pablo Zabaleta.

As a player who, at 18, took Rio Ferdinand’s record as the youngest defender to win an England cap in November 2006, he was regarded at the time as a world class talent and a shoe-in to be the Three Lions’ first-choice right-back for at least the next decade.

His days at that position ultimately look to be numbered now but, having clearly shown himself to be just as accomplished at centre-back since arriving at Villa thanks to his leadership skills, strength, reading of the game and aerial prowess, it would be a grave mistake to write off his international career for good.

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