‘People underestimate just how good Lescott is’

Manchester City defender Micah Richards has hailed his team-mate Joleon Lescott as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.

Richards partnered the England international in the centre of defence against Sunderland as Roberto Mancini`s team cruised to a 3-0 victory.

The 24-year-old feels that Lescott has been underrated previously but may now be getting the recognition he deserves given his regular involvement with the national team.

"He is a quality defender," Richards told City`s official website.

"A lot of people don`t understand how good he is - well, people do because he is playing for England - but he really is a top-class centre-back, one of the best in the league.

"I think last season and at the start of this season he has shown that."

Richards was a surprise selection on Saturday having missed the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign so far with an ankle injury.

The academy graduate was pleased to help secure City`s first clean sheet of the season but highlighted midfielder James Milner as the team`s stand-out player in the victory.

"Obviously it is nice to get back after so long but it is nice to get a clean sheet," he added. "We had not kept a clean sheet this season so to come in and step into the back four - I thought the back four was outstanding.

"But I thought James Milner was my man of the match. I thought he was outstanding, he was everywhere.

"Obviously [Aleksandar] Kolarov had a good game as well, so it was an all-round good team performance and I am just happy to be back."