Micah Richards has been expected to leave Aston Villa for quite some team now and it is still not entirely sure why he hasn’t.
The former England international has been perennially unable or unwilling to get himself fit for a number of years now, but has collected a salary consistently amid the financial uncertainty at Villa Park.
That may well have created a situation where some Villa fans would not want to see Richards in their shirt for a competitive match again, but Dean Smith still eyes a way back.
Richards was an outcast under Steve Bruce – the divisions between the pair went too deep – but Smith has decided to offer the defender a fresh start.
Smith’s main objective is to build a deep, committed squad with the quality to sustain a promotion push and in light of a lack of defensive alternatives, has decided to bring Richards back into training with the first-team.
Can he really revive his Villa career? It may be unpalatable given his attitude towards the club but Richards has the quality to be one of the best defenders in the Championship.
His physicality and speed makes him a formidable player at right or centre back and if Smith can get him right, he would be a valuable option.
It’s a long route back, but Richards may yet save his Villa career under a manager who has been pragmatic enough to offer every member of the squad he inherited a fresh start.