Jose Mourinho hopes dropping Henrikh Mkhitaryan from his Manchester United first-team will fire up the Armenia international after his recent poor performances.
Mkhitaryan, 28, had started 10 of United's 11 Premier League matches this season until he was left out of the squad completely for last Saturday's 4-1 victory over Newcastle United. He was omitted again as United slumped to defeat to Basel in their penultimate Champions League group game on Wednesday, despite travelling out to Switzerland with his teammates.
After registering five assists in his opening three league matches, the former Borussia Dortmund has struggled to leave any mark on a game recently and has not played more than 66 minutes of a match since September, with Mourinho regularly replacing the player he brought to the club last summer.
Mourinho and his staff has seen it fit to drop the player who regularly fills the number 10 role and Mkhitaryan now faces a fight to once again prove his worth to the Portuguese coach, the Mirror report.
Mourinho hopes a spell on the sidelines will provide a jolt to his system that force him to raise his game ahead of the busy festive period.
Mkhitaryan endured a tough start to life at Old Trafford last season. After a harrowing performance against Manchester City in October that saw him hooked at half-time, he did not make his manager's Premier League match day squad for the next eight games with Mourinho keen for his new acquisition to get up to speed with the physical demands of the Premier League.
That tough love had its desired effect, however as he provided three assists in his next five appearances in all competitions and scored a winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur in the league.
Mourinho has played down suggestions Mkhitaryan has been dropped for poor performances suggesting his recent calls have been because he wishes to rotate his squad.
"Micki is not playing because we had lots of options for that match. I decided to play Marcus Rashford and Martial together," Mourinho said in a press conference before the Basel defeat.
"For many weeks, the question was - why do they not play together? Now, the question is why is Micki not playing.
"The answer is very simple - until the international board change the rules, I can only start with 11."