Ahead of their clash with Brisbane Roar tonight (Fri), Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has issued a message to the players in his high-flying squad.
Victory have won their past five games and are on an eight-game unbeaten run, which has taken the Big V six points clear of third-placed Melbourne City as the leading challenger to Hyundai A-League leaders Sydney FC.
Ahead of three games in eight days starting with Roar at AAMI Park on Friday night, Victory are in a rich vein of form and Muscat insists he hasn't needed to crack the whip.
But he wants to keep his players on their toes - particularly those pressing for a starting XI spot.
"There are players who are not in the team, who believe they should be in the team and it's pretty simple - your history's not going to get you back into the team," he told reporters on Thursday.
"Being consistently better than the person who's playing in your position is going to get you back into the team.
"So if you're not thirsty and you're not hungry for that it's not going to happen.
"Everyone will get an opportunity, everyone will be required at some point. It's [about] making sure you're prepared and ready for when that does happen.
"The things that are driven from the playing group themselves bear the most weight. It's as simple as that."
One player who will get an opportunity against Brisbane is Nick Ansell, who will come into Victory's line-up for the suspended centre-back Alan Baro.
But there is unlikely to be any changes in the forward third with Muscat declaring Marco Rojas has proved his fitness after copping a knock to the ankle in last week's 2-0 win over Adelaide United.
Ansell will slot into the back four with James Donachie, Leigh Broxham and Jason Geria, with the latter having signed a contract extension until the end of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.
Muscat declared Geria's decision was at least partly motivated by a desire to become the Caltex Socceroos' regular right-back.
"I think he's [Geria] made a good solid decision that he wants to be the best player in his position in this country and in this competition
"And then, you know what, once he does get to that he won't be asking to get into the national team or people won't be pushing his [case], he'll be selected," Muscat said.
"I think we're fortunate that he's committed his future to the football club."