Son Heung-min is not "undroppable", admits Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, following a tough start to the season for the forward.
Son was arguably the standout performer under Conte last season, helping to fire Spurs to a top-four finish and Champions League football.
His tally of 23 league goals saw him share the competition's top-scorer award with Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. No player has had more shots without scoring in the Premier League this season than Son (17).
But Son has struggled to maintain those standards this season, failing to score in his six league appearances and providing just one top-flight assist.
With Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski pressing to start ahead of this weekend's clash with lowly Leicester City, Son's place is under question, and Conte hinted the 30-year-old could be taken out.
"There are no players that are undroppable," he stated. "This has to be very clear. There are no players that are undroppable. If I tell this, it's only to try to help my players
"[It's] to try to avoid injuries, to try to have players at the top of their form and to have a good performance. If I am telling this it is only to protect my players and to give them the possibility to be, in every moment, at the top."
One player who has flourished this term is defender Eric Dier, a former England mainstay whose form has seen him end a two-year exodus from the national setup with a recall from Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions' Nations League games against Italy and Germany.
Conte professed his pride in Dier's return to the England fold, adding that it validates the defender's impressive club performances, particularly with the 2022 World Cup looming.
"I'm really pleased because when my players are called up to the national teams, we are really proud," he added. "It means we are working very well, and we are trying to help the players to go with the national teams.
"In this case for Eric it was a really good achievement for him. For the rest I think my staff and I and team-mates are very happy for this call up to the national team."