Richards faces adversity

QUITE often, strength comes through adversity and Matt Richards has developed a new mental and physical toughness after a difficult season.After starting so well for Town, and winning his first England Under-21 cap, Richards (pictured right) has found himself out of the Blues side more often than he would have hoped for.

By Derek Davis

QUITE often, strength comes through adversity and Matt Richards has developed a new mental and physical toughness after a difficult season.

After starting so well for Town, and winning his first England Under-21 cap, Richards (pictured right) has found himself out of the Blues side more often than he would have hoped for.

He has also been substituted in games and left feeling something of a scapegoat.

But the 20-year-old has kept his head held high, learned the lessons and found an extra determination for when he is called upon again.

Richards said: “I have been taken off at times when I have felt I have been doing alright. But there have been good reasons for that and it has made me stronger as a person and has made me more aware of the bigger picture.

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“I have to look at why that has happened and realise it is not necessarily my fault but it was done for the team.

“I'm disappointed that I have not played in as many games as I wanted to really, but it has still been a good season.

“It is great to be part of this squad and play some role in this team but, at the same time, I have felt I have missed out on things.

“It has hurt my England chances, but I'm not too concerned about that as my main priority is to play as many games as I can for Ipswich, and then maybe England will come along again.”

Richards has also had to adapt to a new role on the left side of midfield, which he does enjoy, and feels adds to his repertoire.

He said: “Even though I played in midfield as a youngster, it has been a good learning curve to play there at this level. I have learnt to play in a few positions now, which gives me more options and also gives the manager more options.”

Richards may have to settle for place on the bench today but is hoping there will only be two more games after today to make his mark.

He said: “It will be really disappointing if we have to go into the play-offs. We know we can still go up from there, and we are good enough, but at the moment our priority is to go up automatically.

“To do that, we have to win the last three games.”

With nothing to play for, Richards is hoping the Leeds players will be in holiday mode today, but he also warned that could work against Town.

He said: “Hopefully, they will take their eye off the ball. They may just not be bothered about the game or they could just relax and play well. We are going to have to be on our game and get a result there.

“It is a game we have to win to stand a chance of going up, and everyone knows we can do with the amount of goals we have scored this season.

“We just have to try and keep it tight, not concede, while scoring ourselves.

“Leeds have not played the best throughout the season but now they will just be able to play without any worry and make it difficult for us.

“I played against Rob Hulse when he was at West Brom last season and he played very well then. He is a good player who scored lots of goals. He will be a difficult opponent.”

Since making his debut for Town as a 16-year-old in the UEFA Cup, Richards, who makes light of being an asthma sufferer as well, has gone on to make almost 100 appearances for the Blues. If he carries on at this rate, by the time he gets to 150 games he will be tougher than steel.

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