City star axed for second week running
Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce has sensationally upped the ante in his selection stand-off 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 now miss Sunday's high-stakes clash with Newcastle.
Joyce was on the front-foot about the issue on Thursday, saying his players had given heart-to-heart commitments in pre-season to "maximise their talents to be the best they could be every single day" in training.
The clear implication being 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," Joyce said.
The axing ramps up pressure on City, who sits fifth after five rounds, and particularly Joyce, to get a result against the Jets.
The second-season coach wouldn't comment on speculation Fornaroli refused to fly to Brisbane last weekend when informed he wouldn't be starting, or reports the 31-year-old failed a skinfold test before the 2-0 loss.
With the $1.5million man on the outer, Joyce seems set to continue with Lachlan Wales upfront, a 21-year-old who was earning a minimum wage at Central Coast until this season.
Joyce said he was duty-bound to honour the commitments that players made to each other before the campaign.
"If the standard of training is high every day, there's a pretty good chance it will be high on Saturday," he said.
"If it's poor in training, there's a pretty good chance it will be poor. You can't push a magic button.
"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.
"The Manchester City Football Group want that. They're serial winners themselves in the English Premier League."
Joyce was adamant that Fornaroli's axing didn't mean the much-loved striker was being forced out of the club.
But there's a well-worn path out of City walked by big names under Joyce's stewardship.
Socceroos legend Tim Cahill left the club almost exactly a year ago after repeatedly missing selection.
Club champion Neil Kilkenny and Fernando Brandan also left mid-season, while marquee Marcin Budzinski departed halfway into his megabucks deal.
Joyce, who like Fornaroli is out of contract at season's end, denied a link between the departures of high-profile forwards Fornaroli and Cahill.
"Every player at the football club who leaves or stays does so for different reasons. I don't think you can compare (Cahill's) situation to another," he said.