MANCHESTER ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Jerome Boateng of Manchester City beats Jonas Olsson of West Bromwich Albion during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at the City of Manchester Stadium on February 5 2011 in Manchester England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Jerome Boateng And Micah Richards Give Manchester City Injury Headache

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Micah Richards Ruled Out Of FA Cup Semifinal

Looks like that oxygen chamber didn't do Manchester City right back Micah Richards all that much good. The defender has been ruled out of his club's FA Cup semifinal clash against Manchester United following a hamstring injury incurred on international duty with the England U-21s, despite desperate efforts by both Richards and the City medical staff to get him fit on time. With Jerome Boateng damaging his meniscus last weekend (the club is now looking for a second opinion on whether the German fullback needs surgery to correct the problem, because they really didn't like the first one) and several other defenders absent for various reasons, Roberto Mancini has a real problem with his back line.

Assuming Boateng does indeed go under the knife, there would be just four defenders available to Mancini, although England midfielder James Milner is versatile enough to play right back (albeit very badly). Aleksandar Kolarov, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, and Dedryck Boyata are the men who'll have to hold the fort until some of the absentees return to the squad, but if one of those players gets hurt or suspended there's going to be a lot of juggling going on. Mancini might actually be best served by going to a 3-5-2 with Kolarov and Milner as wingbacks, but considering his tendency towards gross conservatism we probably have a better chance of seeing him sprout a second head than switch to a three-man back line.

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Jerome Boateng And Micah Richards Give Manchester City Injury Headache

Manchester City should be sporting an embarrassment of riches throughout their squad, but Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng both picked up major injuries on international duty to put Roberto Mancini's right back situation into less-than-desirable waters. Boateng, 22, injured his knee during the warmups for Germany's 4-0 win over Kazahkstan, and the problem is serious enough to force the defender to undergo surgery, ruling him out for an unknown (although presumably significant) amount of time.

Meanwhile, Micah Richards succumbed to a hamstring tear while playing for the England U-21s to a 4-0 thrashing of Denmark last week, and though initial reports suggested that he'd miss up to a month he's battling to regain full fitness by April 16th for the key FA Cup semifinal match against arch-rivals Manchester United. Richards is quoted in various media outlets as planning to install an oxygen chamber in his home in an effort to increase his recovery time:

I knew straight away what I had done because I heard the dreaded ping. It is a bit sore but I'm hoping it is not too bad.

Some of the other lads have used an oxygen tent to help them recover more quickly from injuries so I am willing to give it a go. I will sleep in the thing if necessary. I want to be available for that game against United. It is going to be a great occasion.

If both Richards and Boateng are unavailable for selection, Mancini will face an interesting selection dilemma as he looks to plot a course to secure at least fourth place in the league as well as mount an attack on the FA Cup. The pair have combined for 49 appearances in all competitions this season, and replacing them won't be trivial for City, despite their huge resources.

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