Sheffield Wednesday boss refuses to deny claims he has frozen out senior stars
Manager Garry Monk refused to confirm or deny whether he has frozen out any members of his Owls squad.
Senior stars Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson have been notably absent from recent matchday squads while Hamburg loanee David Bates has never featured under Monk.
Record-signing Jordan Rhodes was also left out of the Owls side held to a goalless home draw with Millwall last Saturday.
It looks highly unlikely that the quartet will be involved when Wednesday go to South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley this weekend.
Monk, whose side have lost five of their last seven Championship matches, said: "Some (players) are in better positions than others, that’s clear.
"That has been communicated, and that’s all I need to say about it.
"My job is to communicate that; I am not going to say what I have said to certain players.
"I have been very clear on certain standards within the squad. My only focus is on the games ahead of me, and the teams we will play."
Both goalkeeper Westwood and midfielder Hutchinson, whose contract expires at the end of the season, were ostracised from the first-team squad when Jos Luhukay was in charge back in 2018.
When asked if every player in his squad still has a chance of playing this season, Monk said: "Those decisions are quite easy, players make those decisions.
"How they train, how they play, how they are contributing. That’s how you pick a team, how you pick a squad.
"Some have a better chance than others, but those that have less of a chance in that moment, a week or a couple of days, things change and they can put themselves in a much stronger position.
"My main job is I try to pick the best team on merit."
Monk could hand debuts to forwards Connor Wickham and Josh Windass at Oakwell. The loan pair joined the Owls on deadline-day.
“The priority (in January) was the attacking areas and we managed to get the three lads in,” said Monk, who also signed Alessio Da Cruz. “That was important, especially with the injury to Steven Fletcher.”