Kompany’s return will help City get back on an even keel

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Manchester City defender Micah Richards expects the team to “keep strong” amid their latest difficulties.

City have a three-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League but have endured a damaging month with elimination from two cup competitions and the absences of key players being keenly felt.

Captain Vincent Kompany has missed the last four games following his sending-off in the FA Cup third-round loss to champions Manchester United while striker Mario Balotelli has just begun a four-match ban.

City are also unable to call on Yaya and Kolo Toure due to the African Nations Cup while the ongoing saga with Carlos Tevez continues to attract headlines.

Their latest disappointment came on Wednesday as they were edged out by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup but Richards looked for positives.

The 23-year-old said: “Obviously Mario is suspended but we have got a boost now with Vinny coming back.

“We have other stuff going on as well but we will keep strong and we will look forward to our next game, which is Everton.

“We will go there and try to get a win.”

City’s hopes of reaching the Carling Cup final were ended at Anfield as they were held 2-2 by Liverpool to go out 3-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt is determined to end his long quest for a trophy with the club next month against Cardiff.

“I have been here a while now and have played in a Champions League final and semi-final and in the Europa League semi-final and been second in the league,” said Kuyt.

“Sometimes it is like that in football. You just have to make sure you give everything to reach what you want to reach – I know it is not enough to be second.

“We have been close and sometimes a bit unlucky but that is behind us, that is what we can’t change. What we can change is the future.”

He added: “I came here to win trophies and that is the spirit of the players, the manager and the club so it is good to be back in contention and hopefully we can go on from here.”