SUNDERLAND’S Kieran Richardson has not given up hope of catching England boss Fabio Capello’s eye and rekindling his international career.
As a rising star at Manchester United, Richardson excelled in a loan spell with West Brom and was handed his international debut by then national coach Sven-Göran Eriksson in May 2005.
He made an instant impact, scoring twice on his debut in a 2-1 friendly win over the USA in Chicago in 2005, and he went on to win a further seven caps. However, his last outing in an England shirt came almost three-and-a-half years ago in a 1-1 friendly draw with Holland in November 2006, after which he was discarded by Eriksson’s successor, former Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren.
Richardson made a £5.5m move to Sunderland in 2007 but has struggled to produce his best form for the Black Cats, and is one of a raft of players who could be on their way out of Wearside in the summer as part of boss Steve Bruce’s squad revamp.
Richardson accepts he will only earn an England recall if he can get his club form right
and his cause has not been helped by a troublesome calf injury, which has restricted him to just four appearances since Christmas.
Add to that the fact that injuries and suspensions have meant that he has been called upon to fill in at left-back and on the left wing rather than in his preferred central midfield role, and it is easy to see why his form has suffered.
But he refuses to accept that his England career ended at the Amsterdam ArenA.
“It’s very disappointing I have not kicked on and established myself in the squad, of course it is, but your form has to be right for your club first and foremost to get any recognition at international level,” said Richardson.
“This season has not particularly gone how it would have wanted, but I definitely want to play for my country again – there is no doubt about that.
“I’m gutted I’ve lost my place but, inside, I know I have the ability to do that again. I have never doubted my ability, never.
“I will never give up on playing for England again.
“It’s all about staying injury free, playing every week and trying to attract Fabio Capello’s eye. I will keep going.”
While Richardson has made no secret of the fact that he is a reluctant full-back, it is that position that seems to offer him his best route back into the England squad.
Capello’s first-choice left-back, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole, is in a race against time to be fit for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa after breaking his ankle.
And the man regarded as his deputy, Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge, has asked not to be considered for the national side due to his well-documented fallout with deposed England skipper John Terry.
That has left Capello looking round for alternatives, with Everton’s Leighton Baines and Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock drafted into the squad for last night’s friendly against Egypt at Wembley.
Richardson has more international experience than either of those two, or other contenders for the left-back role such as Villa’s Nicky Shorey and Fulham’s Paul Konchesky.
Earlier in the season Bruce told Richardson that there was no reason why he could not earn a second chance with England and, with Capello still weighing up his options at left-back, there remains an opportunity for the 25-year-old – if he can find some form in the final 11 games of the season.
Bruce said: “The problem with Kieran is he doesn’t particularly like it [playing left-back]. But he is an excellent defender – he is very quick, he is naturally left-footed.
“There could be a late call – who knows?”