Mark Lawrenson wades into debate over Aston Villa captain Micah Richards

Micah Richards

Legendary defender Mark Lawrenson is the latest pundit to have his say on beleaguered Aston Villa captain Micah Richards.

Richards has been at the centre of a very public debate over his ability as a centre back and leader in a Villa side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and looking certainties for relegation.

It all started when Match of the Day pundit and Arsenal legend Wright criticised Richards' performance in Villa's 2-0 defeat to Norwich City last month.

The defender was caught out of position for one of the Norwich goals and Wright said at the time: "That’s the captain (Richards). He’s got to make more of an effort than that," Wright said.

"These are the reasons they are going down."

The former Manchester City man hit back at Wright on Twitter in the wake of that Norwich defeat saying: "I respected you as a player! And your not a bad pundit but talking about me like that isn’t on!!

"What has captain got to do with it? I can take constructive criticism but not this!"

Shearer reignited debate

Many felt Villa skipper Richards should be focusing on helping Villa turn things around on the pitch with his side stuck on eight points from 20 games.

But he was again at fault (although not the only one) as Villa were beaten 3-1 by relegation rivals Sunderland last time out in the Premier League.

Aaalysing that performance on Match of the Day, Wright's fellow pundit Alan Shearer re-ignited the row saying: "I know Micah Richards was upset with Wrighty for criticising him and the back four two or three days ago," Shearer said on MOTD.

"But these guys are making mistake after mistake every single game, they have to accept criticism."

A friend in Lawro

Richards looks to have finally found an ally at in the Match of the Day studio, though, after Liverpool legend Lawrenson praised his goal scoring performance despite the club's disappointing 1-1 draw at League Two side Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.

Playing at right back, Lawrenson had words of comfort for the under fire defender on MOTD even if his lack of concentration did almost cost Villa against the Chairboys.

"When you've been playing centre back and all of a sudden you're asked to play right back it's like this great release because you know you're allowed to pile forward," Lawrenson said on MOTD.

"I mean he played really well going forward but it's very, very important that when it comes to defending you've not got to switch off which is just exactly what he did and in the Premier League it could possibly have been a goal.

"But that apart he worked extremely hard and it's a really, really good finish which made all the difference and he should have had a penalty."

Richards had a total of 60 touches up and down the right hand side for Remi Garde's team and was backed by Lawrenson's fellow pundit Trevor Sinclair to rediscover his best form at right back.

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