Richard Dunne gives his view on what Micah Richards will do if Aston Villa are relegated

The ex-Villa centre-back believes his former Manchester City teammate can be a big part of Villa's future even in the Championship.

Former Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne has insisted to the club's website that Micah Richards can be a big part of the club's future even if they are relegated to the Championship.

The retired defender played with the current Villa captain for four years at Manchester City before leaving to sign for Martin O'Neill's Villans in 2009, where he would go on to become a key player.

Meanwhile, Richards has come in for some criticism from claret and blue supporters during his first season at the club that he grew up supporting.

However, Dunne is adamant that the 27-year-old is still a quality player and could become a huge part of the Birmingham club's future for years to come.

The Irishman told "I love Micah. He's been unfortunate with injuries when you look at his career as a whole. As a player, he was outstanding when I played with him at City, at that point he was the regular right-back for England.

"He's a very good player for Villa - and I believe he's one that can be part of the future of the club to put it back where it belongs.

"If it's relegation this season - and the players will be fighting to make sure it isn't - I am hoping that it's the following season that promotion is achieved and I think Micah can be a big part of that journey."

Richards is reported to be one of the highest earners at Villa Park, something which could make him a likely candidate to leave the club in the summer if and when Remi Garde's side are relegated.

He has been a regular in the team so far in his first season at the club, scoring twice in 24 appearances.

Villa are eight points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table with just three league wins all season, and face a daunting trip to Richards and Dunne's former club Manchester City this weekend.

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