Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce has sensationally upped the ante in his selection standoff with Bruno Fornaroli, leaving the star striker out of his A-League squad for this weekend.
Fornaroli was omitted from City's squad to face Brisbane last week, and will miss Sunday's clash with Newcastle Jets.
Joyce was on the front-foot about the issue on Thursday, saying his players had given heart-to-heart commitments in preseason to "maximise their talents to be the best they could be every single day." The clear implication is that Fornaroli had not.
"Everybody's got a chance every day to compete and force their way into the team ... the demands on Bruno and every other player at the football club are the same every day," Joyce said.
Joyce wouldn't comment on speculation that City's marquee man refused to fly to Brisbane last weekend when informed he wouldn't be starting. The club has refused to confirm or deny reports the 31-year-old failed a skinfold test before the round five loss at the Roar.
With the $1.5 million man on the outer, Joyce seems set to continue with Lachlan Wales up front, a 21-year-old who was earning a minimum wage at Central Coast until this season. Joyce said it was his pursuit of elite standards that drove his selections.
"If they want to be the best player every day, they can be," he said. "If the standard of training is high every day, there's a pretty good chance it will be high on Saturday. If it's poor in training, there's a pretty good chance it will be poor. You can't push a magic button. That's the level of consistency you expect from the players.
"We're setting our standards high as a football group, not only to be winners but serial winners. When they are in place, you become winners and serial winners."