Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Record-Breaker Micah Steps Up for England Bow

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Record-Breaker Micah Steps Up for England Bow

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

Micah Richards will become the youngest defender to play for England tonight, with coach Steve McClaren insisting he has no hesitation in playing the 18-year-old.

With Gary Neville injured, Richards has been handed the right-back berth for the friendly with Holland in Amsterdam ( even though the Manchester City youngster has only made 23 Premiership starts for his club.

It is the type of leap of faith previous England bosses have taken on Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney and while Richards' emergence has not been chronicled in the same manner, McClaren has no doubts about his ability to adapt.

"It is not how old you are, it is how good you are," he said. "Micah has come into the squad and it is as if he had been involved all the time.

"He is a very confident boy, as you need to be at this level, and I have no hesitation in picking him. He has been given a chance and I hope he takes it."

Having also handed Everton striker Andrew Johnson only his second start, as well as recalling Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard, McClaren has attempted to shake up the side which performed so dismally in Croatia last month.

But it is the inclusion of Richards which really gives this England line-up a fresher feel.

Although the most notable moments of his fledgling career so far involve a four-letter outburst on live TV after last season's FA Cup tie at Aston Villa, and then a petulant shirt-throwing incident when he was substituted at Reading, Richards has started fulfilling the promise McClaren first saw when he was still manager at Middlesbrough.

"I have known about Micah for a couple of years," he added. "He impressed me playing both at reserve and youth team level for Manchester City. I thought he was a player for the future and now that has come to the fore.

"He is a new breed of player; strong, quick, athletic, mobile. …

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