By Will Butcher

Sunderland are still interested in signing Aston Villa’s England international Micah Richards, despite the Wearside club’s managerial change.

The Telegraph claimed that Sam Allardyce was interested in signing Richards before landing the England job, but the interest in the former Manchester City remains strong following Moyes’ appointment on Wearside.

The Daily Star have now revealed that the 28-year-old has a £5million release clause in his Villa contract and the former Manchester United manager is ready to meet that figure.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo is under no pressure to sell Richards, who captained Villa last season at times. The defender has three years remaining on the four-year contract he signed last summer.

Richards endured a difficult campaign last year as he was unable to prevent The Villains conceding 76 Premier League goals, and subsequently being relegated for the first time in 28 seasons.

The versatile defender joined Villa on a free transfer from Manchester City in 2015 and the defender played in 28 matches last season, predominantly at centre-back.

The 13-time capped England ace was once considered a bright prospect as he broke into Manc City’s senior side in the Premier League as a right-back.

Before signing for Villa, Richards spent the 2014-15 season on loan in Italy with Fiorentina, but struggled to break into the side before his move to the Midlands.

Richards made his last appearance for England in 2012 and he also featured as one of the overage players in Team GB’s London Olympic football team in 2012.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, Di Matteo has rejected a fourth Celtic bid for his star winger.