Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has refused to comment on speculation that Fahid Ben Khalfallah hasn't played in two weeks due to a contract dispute, though the winger will be added to the Big V's extended squad for Friday night's clash with Sydney FC.
Ben Khalfallah has been left out of Victory's matchday squad for their games against Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets in the past fortnight, with Fox Sports pundit Robbie Slater claiming on a broadcast last week that the veteran winger is being frozen out due to a clause in his contract.
It is understood that Ben Khalfallah is close to triggering another year at Victory based on the number of games he plays in 2016-17.
Muscat revealed on Thursday that Ben Khalfallah will be added to Victory's extended squad for Friday night's trip to face Sydney FC but refused to confirm or deny that contract talks are impacting his selection.
"We don't discuss contracts, so I think it'd be disrespectful to any of the individuals, who we're talking about and that's something that we've done right throughout [the club's history]," Muscat told reporters.
Victory's boss added: "Everything's dictated to by what happens out on the training pitch and Fahid's trained really well this week."
Muscat described his relationship with Ben Khalfallah as "fine", while also highlighting the performances of Jai Ingham, who has taken over from the ex-Tunisia international in Victory's starting XI.
"Any decision I make, as small as someone might think it is or as big as someone might think it is, it's a decision that's based on what's best for the football team, and then what's best for the football club," Muscat said.
Ben Khalfallah has been at Victory since the 2014-15 season when he won the Victory Medal as the club's best player in a double-winning campaign.
That earned him a two-year contract extension but he didn't reach the same heights in 2015-16, while this season he has been better although his one goal and two assists in 15 A-League matches is well down compared to his attacking team-mates Besart Berisha, James Troisi and Marco Rojas.