Sergio Torres has been told he must prove he is worth a place in the Crawley team on merit.
Torres has started just one league game this season for Reds and has not featured at all since the 2-2 draw at Coventry two months ago when he came off the bench to spark a late comeback.
The Argentinean midfielder has been an unused substitute in four of the last five games and the extent he has dropped down the pecking order was highlighted when he did not even make the squad for the 2-1 victory at Walsall two weeks ago.
Torres was frozen out by former boss Richie Barker but his prospects at the Checkatrade.com Stadium appeared to improve when John Gregory took over as manager in December.
Gregory used the 30-year-old four times in his first seven matches in charge, including handing him consecutive starts against Notts County and Bristol Rovers. But the arrivals of Gary Dicker and Hiram Boateng, combined with the return to fitness of Dannie Bulman, has left him out of the picture once again.
Torres remains a fans’ favourite at Crawley due to his contribution to the club’s rise from non-league to League One since signing from Peterborough in July 2010 but Gregory says his popularity with supporters is irrelevant.
Gregory said: “If I picked teams on sentiment Paul McGrath would still be playing for Aston Villa! Sentiment has to go out of the window when you are a football manager.
“It is nothing personal (with Torres) as I never let personal issues with players affect my judgment. In the past I was accused of having personal issues with David Ginola and Stan Collymore but that wasn’t the case.
“Even if I despised one of my players I would still pick him if I felt he would help the team win a match.
“ It is the same at Crawley. I pick the team every week regardless of whether I get on with a player or not.”
Torres, who is out of contract in the summer, could find himself out in the cold again when Crawley travel to Gillingham due to the return of Joe Walsh and Rory Fallon following international duty in midweek.
Gregory has vowed to rotate his squad once again after making four changes for the 1-1 draw with Stevenage on Tuesday but perhaps, tellingly, did not mention Torres when discussing potential combinations in midfield.
Gregory added: “Everybody wants to play every game but sometimes I have to take them out of the firing line and get them to rest so when they do come back in their bodies are able to cope with the strains of playing effectively three games in eight days.
“Our players can’t go out there and perform to their maximum level each and every game so I’ve got to try and rotate in the right manner without doing it too often and I have to choose the games to do it in.
“I have to make sure I pick the right team and get the right combinations.
“Whether that means Micky Jones playing on the right or the left or whether I play Dannie (Bulman) with (Gary) Dicker or Dannie with (Hiram) Boateng or Dannie with (Andy) Drury I have to make sure I get the combination right.”
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