Micah Richards backs returning Jores Okore to hand Aston Villa major boost

The Danish defender is finally back fit after undergoing knee surgery in the summer.

Aston Villa team captain Micah Richards believes the fit-again Jores Okore will provide the team with a huge boost in their bid to climb up the Premier League table over the coming weeks.

The 23-year-old centre-back was an unused substitute for Wednesday night’s 2-1 Capital One Cup fourth-round defeat at Southampton, having recovered from a summer knee operation which saw him miss the start of the season.

It remains to be seen how much he will feature going forward with Richards, Joleon Lescott and Ciaran Clark all ahead of him in the pecking order at present, but his skipper is backing him to replicate his form of last term once he gets his chance.

Speaking to Villa’s official website, Richards said of his fellow defender: "He's been training for a number of weeks now and he's looked really sharp. Hopefully he can play a massive part in us getting some points on the board. We're happy to see him back.

"I watched a few of the games he played last season and I was very impressed. He did very well. To have him back now is a huge boost.

"He's managed to stay confident through his injury lay-off and I am sure when he gets his chance he will do really well for us."

Okore has made 32 total appearances for Villa since signing from Danish Superliga club FC Nordsjaelland in June 2013 for around £4 million, but he missed most of his first season in the Midlands after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament just four games into his claret and blue career.

However, after returning to training ahead of last term, the Danish defender managed to battle back into former boss Paul Lambert’s plans over the course of the campaign and went on to start 11 of successor Tim Sherwood’s 16 games in charge during the run-in.

Further knee problems eventually forced the promising stopper to undergo surgery for a second time in the summer, though, and with Villa since signing both Richards and Lescott, he faces another battle to break into the line-up.

Clark, who was arguably Villa’s rightful player of the season last term, will certainly be in the conversation for a starting spot under whoever replaces the sacked Sherwood in the near future, too, while Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori is getting closer to a first-team breakthrough.

 Premier League PositionTeamSeasonTotal Tackles GAMETackle AccuracyTotal Clearances GAMEHeaders Won GAMEHeader SuccessInterceptions GAMEPassing AccuracyBall Recoveries GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Jores Okore DF Aston Villa 2014-2015 2.22 75% 6.48 2.09 56.47% 2.83 86% 5.48 23 2,009
Micah Richards DF Aston Villa 2015-2016 1.9 74% 6.9 2.7 65.85% 2.7 86% 5.3 10 900
Ciaran Clark DF Aston Villa 2015-2016 1.5 67% 9.25 5 76.92% 3.5 78% 4.25 4 360
Joleon Lescott DF Aston Villa / West Brom 2015-2016 1.13 89% 5.75 2 80% 2.63 79% 5 8 675

Nevertheless, it cannot be forgotten how impressive Okore looked at times over the second half of last season, and having just turned 23 in August, there should still be a lot more to come from him if he can keep off the treatment table.

New boy Lescott has also looked incredibly shaky since his deadline day arrival Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion, and with some suggesting that Richards should be shifted across to right-back, there could well be opportunities for him to win back his place.

The first could even come on Monday night when Villa travel to Tottenham Hotspur, with Richards facing a one-match ban after accepting an FA charge of misconduct for his part in the tunnel incident that followed last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Swansea City.

However, with the club currently sitting bottom of the Premier League with just four points from 10 games, it will likely take a lot more than just the Denmark international's introduction to help turn around their dismal start to the season.

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