Steven Gerrard's thoughts on the absence of defender Tyrone Mings should not have been made public by the Aston Villa head coach, believes former player Micah Richards.
The England defender was stripped of the Villa captaincy heading into the new Premier League season, with midfielder John McGinn handed the armband for the 2022-23 campaign.
And Mings was absent for the season opener at former club Bournemouth, where Villa fell to a 2-0 defeat against the newly promoted Cherries.
Speaking afterwards, Gerrard said he would select Mings again when he "looks me in the eye and shows that he's ready to play".
But Richards, who was a Villa player when Mings first arrived at the club, suggested Gerrard's comments had thrown his former team-mate "under the bus".
"I’m flabbergasted, to be honest, because Mings is well-loved by the dressing room by all accounts, and the Villa fans seem to love him as well," Richards said on BBC Radio 5 Live's Monday Night Club.
"He tweeted when he lost the captaincy, and he seemed to take it well.
"It's not like Gerrard... he sort of threw him under the bus a little bit there. Normally, you agree with everything Gerrard says – he's straight to the point, direct, and he's a manager that will deal with anything internal in the dressing room.
"But he sort of put the feelers out there that there is a little bit more to be honest. Nobody would take losing the captaincy well, that's just a natural reaction.
"I just feel, for both Mings and Gerrard, they could have kept that internal.
"Maybe Gerrard was frustrated because they just lost the game, and he was asked the question so gave an honest answer, but normally he keeps that between the group. It's very interesting."