Richards spent last season on loan with Doncaster Rovers in League One, becoming quite the popular figure during his temporary spell and Hoden who spent last year watching him, believes he could be a fantastic addition for Blues.
“Overall, he was very good and was certainly in the mix for player of the season,” he said.
“It was an interesting season for Rovers, who were in the race for automatic promotion until February when they began to sink like a stone. When things were going well, he was excellent and a big driving force behind the good run.
“When form started to slide, there were questions over his application and workrate, and times when you were willing him to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, which he had shown himself more than capable of.
“Taking the season as a whole, I would say there were far more positives than negatives as Rovers have certainly lacked a player of his ilk during this campaign.”
The 21-year-old scored 11 goals and provided five assists during his 48 appearances for the Reds and whilst his arrival will be looked at as a straight like-for-like swap with the outgoing Riley McGree, Richards may provide a little more fire power.
“He is very much attack-minded and could easily play in the number ten role as well as deeper,” Hoden continued.
“He loves to get on the ball and drive forward with real power, which caused plenty of problems for opposition defences.
“His passing range is very good too.
“He’s not the type that will be racing back to contribute to the defensive effort but he has a wonderful knack of muscling opposition players off the ball and pushing forward.
“His threat with the ball at his feet is huge.
“He will power forward out of midfield, often with a one-track mind of ultimately going for goal. It helps that he packs a decent shot as well.
“He has a real ability to create something from nothing, even when the team around him isn’t performing.”
There is of course questions of whether he can make the step up to the Championship.
And whilst he does have some weaknesses to his game, similar to that of Dion Sanderson who also spent last season in the division below, Hoden feels the transition should be quite a seamless one for Richards.
“He can drift in and out of games and there will be some that just don’t go his way at all,” he added.
“It’s what leads to the questions about his workrate, and his body language at times doesn’t help him.
“I was somewhat surprised there wasn’t a queue of clubs knocking on Brighton’s door in the summer.
“He certainly looked a level above League One standard last season, and that came in a side that was competing at the top, as well as being his first loan.
“He has the physicality and natural athleticism to handle the step up, as well as the ability. It just comes down to if he can regularly answer those doubters about his work ethic.
“I think it’s a great signing (for Blues).
“I fully believe he is ready to make the step up and I think whatever role he is handed, whether starting or off the bench, he is capable of making a big impact for Birmingham.”
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