Raheem Sterling 'Fuming' over England Captaincy Leak

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: Raheem Sterling of England celebrates as he scores his team's fourth goal and completes his hat trick during the 2020 UEFA European Championships Group A qualifying match between England and Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on March 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling has said he was left "fuming" after a press release issued by his management company claimed the Manchester City winger would captain England against Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals. 

Manager Gareth Southgate is planning to rest the seven players in his squad who featured in the UEFA Champions League final for Thursday's clash at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes, Portugal.

That includes captain Harry Kane, who started for Tottenham Hotspur against Liverpool in Madrid last weekend for his first appearance in almost two months due to an ankle injury.

Resting Kane would open the door for Sterling to take the armband.

But the 24-year-old, who will earn his 50th England cap against the Dutch, said he apologised to Southgate after a press release sent out by Purple PR—a firm that works with his management company—revealed his appointment as skipper, per the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel:

"I couldn't tell you [why they sent it out]. I woke up this morning fuming. 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 did after I came off the phone to my agent was see Gareth down the hallway, and I apologised to him for what had happened. I don't know where that's come from."

Sterling deserves the captaincy after flourishing recently for both club and country.

He enjoyed a superb 2018-19 season with City, netting 17 goals and providing 10 assists as the Sky Blues retained the Premier League title. He was also named Player of the Year by the Football Writers' Association:

B/R Football @brfootball

OFFICIAL: @sterling7 has been named 2019 Football Writers' Association Player of the Year The headlines he deserves 🗞️ https://t.co/tK8anUk6c1

Meanwhile, for the Three Lions, has also found form by netting six goals in his last four international appearances.

In the absence of Kane, Sterling will be the key man for England, and the senior forward in an anticipated front line of him, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, per Paul Joyce in The Times.

England and the Netherlands are playing for a place in Sunday's inaugural Nations League final at Porto's Estadio do Dragao.

Hosts Portugal have already booked their spot in the final after a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired 3-1 victory over Switzerland on Wednesday:

UEFA Nations League @UEFAEURO

🇵🇹 Portugal are in the #NationsLeague final! 🎉🎉🎉 Thanks to a hat-trick from... Cristiano Ronaldo! ⚽️⚽️⚽️

Southgate will be taking a risk if he does leave out all Liverpool and Spurs players for Thursday, as Ronald Koeman's Dutch side is packed with quality.

But if the Three Lions can win without the likes of Kane, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson and Danny Rose, it will be an impressive indication of England's squad depth.