Richards- Keep strong and carry on

City still have a four-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League but have endured a damaging month with elimination from two cup competitions and the absences of key players being keenly felt.

However, Richards said: "We have other stuff going on as well but we will keep strong and we will look forward to our next game, which is Everton. We will go there and try to get a win."

Captain Vincent Kompany has missed the last four games following his controversial sending off in the FA Cup third-round loss to Manchester United - also a key factor in that result - while striker Mario Balotelli has just begun his own four-match ban.

City are also unable to call on Yaya and Kolo Toure due to the African Nations Cup while the ongoing Carlos Tevez saga continues to attract headlines. Their latest disappointment came as they were edged out by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup but Richards looked for positives.

The 23-year-old said: "Obviously Mario is suspended but we have got a boost now with Vinny coming back."

City's hopes of reaching the Carling Cup final were ended at Anfield as they were held 2-2 by Liverpool to go out 3-2 on aggregate.

Richards was at the centre of controversy after being adjudged by referee Phil Dowd to have handled to concede the penalty which led to the first of Liverpool's two equalisers. Richards, playing in an unfamiliar role as one of three centre-backs, stretched to block a Daniel Agger shot but the ball rebounded off his leg and hit his arm.

He told City TV: "I think the referee made a poor decision for the penalty. It struck my foot and has gone on to my hand.

"I don't know what he expects me to do with that. But it was a decision. I won't say it has cost us but it has clearly played a massive part."

Source: PA

Source: PA