Steve Evans insists that Michael O'Connor will not be offered a new Rotherham contract until he can win his place back in the side.
The 26-year-old, whose current deal expires in the summer, has been an important player for the Millers over the last 18 months and his form in 2013 earned a recall to the Northern Ireland squad.
But having come back from September's international break with a thigh injury he has struggled for fitness and has fallen out of Evans' current first-choice XI, failing to start any of the last five games.
Press Association Sport understands O'Connor is desperately frustrated at his current plight and even asked to be loaned out, but also remains keen to hammer down a new deal at New York.
However, Evans insists he is not in a position to discuss fresh terms at the minute, though has offered hope to the former Scunthorpe man.
"O'Connor is a good player, he is a player we would like to see back in the team," Evans said.
"We'd like to see him producing the form of September and October which got him back in the Northern Ireland squad.
"Michael has worked extremely hard over the last couple of weeks to get himself in peak physical condition and now he has to get back into the team.
"He has to be in the team to get a new contract.
"Is Michael O'Connor one of our best players? Absolutely. Does he have to get in the team to get a new contract? Yes."