Richards: Tevez is our special one
Manchester City defender Micah Richards has spoken out on how crucial Carlos Tevez is to the future of club. The England defender has said he feels the unsettled striker is key to their progress, with a UEFA Champions League spot next season their ambition.
City are on course to achieve that goal as they prepare for the home game against Everton on Monday, however Tevez's transfer request has left question marks about whether his actions will disrupt the dressing room. The Argentina striker is due to return to the team after a one-match ban caused him to sit out the victory against West Ham.
Despite his situation - which manager Roberto Mancini is addressing - Richards expects him to face David Moyes' side. Richards said: "He will be playing. I'm sure he will be in the starting eleven. We need him in our team if we want to achieve what we want to achieve. He's our main man and our captain."
Mario Balotelli is in contention to a partner Tevez after being rested in midweek when City secured top spot in Group A in the UEFA Europa League. However Mancini was pleased with the performance of Brazilan striker Jo, who scored the equalising goal in the 1-1 draw with Juventus on Thursday, meaning they qualified ahead of Lech Poznan.
The rangy forward appears to have moved up the pecking order ahead of Togolese team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor at Eastlands. But, as Richards admits, it is Tevez who is City's star turn - already having racked up ten goals in the Premier League this season.
The full back knows he would leave a big hole should should he move on but added: "There are other people. We've still got Adebayor and Balotelli. And we've got Jo, who I thought had a fantastic game against Juventus. But Carlos is our special one and we need him in our team. We all know that."
As well as Tevez, Aleksandar Kolarov is also available to start on Monday after a one-match ban but Nigel de Jong sits it out after accruing five yellow cards so far this term.
Meanwhile coach David Platt believes City have strength in depth at the back as well as in attack. And he was pleased with the mentality of Dedryck Boyata in the 1-1 draw against Juventus in the Europa League in midweek. They now face a tough tie against Aris Salonika in the round of 32 - with the Greek side undefeated at home in Europe for forty years.
Boyata grew in confidence in Turin after being sent off inside five minutes against Arsenal in October with the Gunners going on to record a 3-0 victory. Platt said: "After that disappointment against Arsenal he came back and I thought he performed very well. It was also good to see Jerome Boateng at centre half as well. We know he can play in that position and that gives us another option."