Aston Villa boss Remi Garde explains his decision to bench Micah Richards against Stoke

Micah Richards

The Frenchman opted to start Alan Hutton at right-back over his skipper as his side fell to a 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.

Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has explained that his decision to bench team captain Micah Richards for Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Stoke City was made with the coming games against Everton and Manchester City in mind.

Richards, 27, had started Villa's previous five matches at right-back after spending the first half of the season in the centre of defence following his summer arrival.

However, the former England international was forced to settle for a spot among the substitutes at the Britannia Stadium as Alan Hutton was recalled to the side in the wake of the humiliating 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, with Villa playing again on Tuesday night against Everton before travelling to Man City next Saturday, Garde stressed that the quick fixture turnaround would force him to make changes to his side.

Speaking to the club’s official website about his skipper’s absence from the Stoke loss, the Frenchman said: “I have choices to make sometimes when I have enough players to do so.

“Micah has played some games. He hasn't played today but we have three games in a week and I have some players who cannot do so.

“Everybody will have his chance.”

Hutton’s inclusion against Stoke was the lone change Garde made from the Liverpool defeat, but the Scot could not prevent a Marko Arnautovic double from condemning Villa to their 17th Premier League defeat of the season.

The Potters striker netted twice in the space of four second-half minutes, opening the scoring six minutes after the restart from the spot before taking advantage of some calamitous defending to chest in a second soon after.

Leandro Bacuna pulled one back with 11 minutes left to offer the claret and blues some hope of a comeback, but his effort proving nothing more than a consolation goal in the end.

The result means Villa remain eight points from safety at the foot of the table with just 11 matches remaining, and Garde admitted that his side are struggling for confidence as the prospect of relegation looms large.

“When you are bottom of the table, it's difficult to play with full confidence,” he told the club’s official website. “Week after week, I see individuals make mistakes. We try to correct that, we try to work hard on that with the players.

“It was such an important game for us today, but we have to keep going. We have the next match against Everton, which will be difficult and very important too. Now we are looking at that.”

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