The 26-year-old was an integral part of the England team that reached the Euro 2020 final this summer.

However, either side of those heroic exploits for the Three Lions, the ex-Liverpool player has struggled for regular game-time in the Premier League and beyond.

That dilemma has multiplied since City splashed out on £100million man Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

Sterling, meanwhile, revealed that he would be open to a move abroad - amid continued links with La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid - should he not be able to reclaim a place in Pep Guardiola's star-studded team.

He started this afternoon's five-star Champions League demolition over Club Brugge on the bench.

Summoned into action by Guardiola later on in the piece, Sterling laid on an assist for academy starlet Cole Palmer as City romped to victory courtesy of further goals Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez (2) and Kyle Walker.

Hans Vanaken netted a late consolation for their Group A opponents in that 5-1 verdict.

Speaking while on commentary duty for BT Sport, pundit and former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said: "He did also say he didn't want to rock the boat and stress the manager. It's refreshing when a player is honest. I don't think it's disrupted City too much.

"You've got to remember it's the oxygen for players that they're picked every week, sitting on the bench is difficult. When you do get your chance on the pitch, you've got to show it."

During a guest appearance at the FT Business of Sport US Summit, earlier this month, 71-cap international Sterling said: "If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else for more game-time I would be open to it at this moment in time. Football is the most important thing to me.

"As an English player, all I know is the Premier League and I've always thought, you know, maybe one day I'd love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge."

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