Warren Joyce has dismissed claims that striker Ross McCormack was internally suspended in Melbourne City’s 3-1 loss to Brisbane Roar last week.
McCormack has had an Achilles injury since arriving to City on a loan deal from Championship side Aston Villa.
The Scotsman has so far scored four goals in six games for City, however, Polishman Marcin Budzinski took the role of central striker against Roar.
McCormack, who blamed a faulty gate at his home for missing a training session while at Aston Villa, was last week dropped by Joyce for being late to training last week, according to a report in the Herald Sun yesterday.
However, on Thursday Joyce denied the story in the Herald Sun and insisted McCormack did not play because of fitness concerns.
“I didn’t think he was right for the game,” Joyce said on Thursday.
“Ross has had Achilles injuries since he came to the club. He’s had two injections, one of them was last Saturday morning. He’s had one prior to that two weeks ago, he didn’t fulfil a full training week last week and we already got (Marcelo) Carrusca injured in training last week.
“If you ask around the dressing room, he’s a popular lad, he’s done everything I’ve asked him to do within that.
“I think he’s more popular with the kit man because he gave his $500 cheque from FoxSports away (in the Round 4 2-0 win over Adelaide United) because he didn’t think he played great when he got Man of the Match.
“He’s integrated well within the group now. Anybody out there who wants to try and dig up dirt on him and try to harm his career like it’s been done in England in the past… He’s not conducted himself like that at this football club.
“He didn’t complete the weeks training last week. We’ve had injuries with other players, it’s a squad game and you want other people to step up and do it, but you can’t afford to lose people for long periods of time either.”
Despite Joyce putting McCormack’s absence last week down to fitness, he said if there were issues internally, it would be kept under wraps.
He added: “There has been a lot of players this season that you’ve disciplined internally and you’ve not wrote about, heard about or made an issue of. There are different forms of discipline and it depends how you define the word.”
Joyce also hinted Tim Cahill could be in contention for Friday night’s game against Perth Glory and denied he had any issues with the 37-year-old.
Australia’s most high profile player hinted last week he may look elsewhere for regular football in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
However the City boss, who addressed the situation after last week’s loss to Brisbane, felt it would be better to hear from Cahill himself.
The star Socceroo also had an ankle injury scare at the beginning of the month in City’s 1-0 loss to Sydney FC.
“My main concern is that he’s been out there for training, but you can only ask Tim those questions and not myself because it’s speculation on my behalf,” he said.
“I have no problems with Tim at all. If you want to ask Tim what the relationship is like, ask him.
“I’ve been there, seen it and I know what poor practice looks like as well. You want people in the football club who are self-motivated and will sacrifice themselves for the team because that’s what winning looks like.
The City boss said he did not feel Cahill’s head was buried in the national team.
“He’s not displayed that so far when he’s played for us," Joyce said.
“When he’s available, he’s done well when he’s come off the bench. In the last game he was available, he started.
“In a week where there’s a little doubt in a part of his body, he put himself up to play against Sydney, so if there are any questions, ask Timmy.”