Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly trying to 'jilt' star playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan into action by dropping the Armenian international from the two match day squads over the course of the last week.
Mkhitaryan was left out of the 18-man squad named for last weekend's 4-1 win over Newcastle, and was again not even on the bench as United faced Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday night, despite having made the trip to Switzerland and being fully fit.
Having finished his debut season strongly, including several goals in the final stages of the Europa League, the 28-year-old enjoyed a fine pre-season during the summer and started the new campaign on fire as United's chief creator.
But after losing that early form and momentum, Mkhitaryan has subsequently been poor in October and November, costing him his place in the team.
According to the Daily Mirror, omitting the ex-Borussia Dortmund maestro is a deliberate attempt from Mourinho to try and light a fire under him.
It worked once before, with Mkhitaryan left out of the team for two months between October and December last season.
He had picked up an injury on international duty in September, but even after returning to fitness, Mourinho continued to leave him out, leading United fans to worry that their new £26m hero might be another high profile flop like Angel di Maria or Shinji Kagawa.
Mkhitaryan turned it around when Mourinho challenged him then, and supporters will be hoping that he can do the same now that Mourinho is challenging him again.