'Fuming' Sterling apologises to Southgate for England captaincy leak
A "fuming" Raheem Sterling apologised to Gareth Southgate after learning of a press release that claimed he would captain England against Netherlands on Thursday.
Purple PR circulated a statement on behalf of Sterling's representative agency Colossal Sports Management which suggested the Manchester City star would wear the armband in the Nations League semi-final clash in Portugal.
Sterling, 24, is set to win his 50th cap and could lead his country if regular captain Harry Kane is rested.
England boss Southgate insists no decision has been made and winger Sterling was left bewildered and upset by the error.
"I couldn't tell you [how it happened]. I woke up this morning fuming," Sterling said in Guimaraes on Wednesday.
"I had a conversation with Gareth. I hadn't had a conversation with anyone in my agency, so it was a strange one to wake up to
"The first thing I saw after coming off the phone to my agent was Gareth down the hallway, and I apologised to him for what had happened. I don't know where it's come from.
"The captaincy is something that's down to the manager and not for me to decide."
Sterling, a key player for Pep Guardiola at Premier League champions City, has become a trusted leader under Southgate and his on-field influence has grown after an imperfect World Cup.
His international career now spans almost seven years and has already exceeded the former Liverpool forward's expectations.
"I feel grown up. I've watched a lot of England games, and I always had a dream to play for them," he said.
"I never thought I'd be in with a chance to win a 50th cap. [It's] a massive achievement for me, and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life, and so will my family."