Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk has revealed that some of his squad are in better positions than others to play for the rest of the season.
It comes as senior players Sam Hutchinson and Keiren Westwood have been left out of recent matchday squads.
That has led to reports that the players have been banished by Monk, who spoke to BBC Sport about the situation after the Owls suffered their fifth loss in six games against Wigan at the end of last month.
“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.”
Hutchinson and Westwood were both frozen out from the first-team squad while previous manager Jos Luhukay was in charge.
However, when asked more recently if he has expelled any of his players, Monk told a press conference [via Wednesday’s 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.”
With injuries to both Massimo Luongo and Kieran Lee, Hutchinson may be needed as Monk currently only has Barry Bannan, Joey Pelupessy and Alex Hunt as senior recognised central midfielders ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Barnsley on Saturday.
Monk offered an update on Owls left back Morgan Fox, who is ’50-50′ for the trip to Oakwell, a game which could see January signings Alessio da Cruz, Josh Windass and Connor Wickham make their full debuts.