The Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk has admitted that some of his players are in better positions than others to feature under him.
Senior players Sam Hutchinson and Keiren Westwood have been notably absent from recent matchday squads.
And that has led to speculation that Hutchinson in particular has been frozen out by Monk – who told BBC Sport after the Owls lost for the fifth time in six Championship outings at Wigan last week: “I have seen enough in the past month to tell me a lot.
“There are some players who shouldn’t be here at this club. That’s the honest truth.”
Both Hutchinson and Westwood were banished from the first-team squad while Jos Luhukay was manager.
But when asked if he has exiled any of his players, Monk told the official Wednesday Facebook page: “Look, some are in better positions than others. That’s clear. And that’s been communicated. That’s all I really need to say on it.
“Some are in much stronger positions than others but, as I said, my job is to communicate that. I’m not going to say what I’ve said to certain players or certain positions, I think that’s to be respectful – and to respect the players themselves.
“(I’ve) been very clear on certain standings within the squad but my main focus is on the games ahead of me, the teams that we’ll play and the squads that will be there, to go and compete for those games.”
Amid the injuries to both Massimo Luongo and Kieran Lee – both of whom could return against Barnsley on Saturday – Hutchinson’s absence is unfortunately timed.
Barry Bannan, Joey Pelupessy and Alex Hunt are Wednesday’s only other recognised options in central midfield.
Monk also revealed that the Owls left-back Morgan Fox is ’50-50′ for the trip to Oakwell, where the January recruits Alessio da Cruz, Josh Windass and Connor Wickham could make their full debuts.
Wickham has of course played for Wednesday across two prior spells.