Norwich head coach Daniel Farke has defended his reasons for limiting star midfielder Emiliano Buendia to substitute appearances in their last three matches.
The Argentine, who impressed throughout Norwich's title-winning campaign in the Championship, has created more chances than any other player in Farke's squad this season.
Asked why Buendia had been on the bench against Newcastle, Liverpool and Wolves, Farke has previously pointed to Buendia's lack of goals and assists - he has not scored but does have seven Premier League assists.
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"It is important to be honest and straight forward. I think my comments on Emi were 95 per cent praise," Farke said.
"Some people have questioned why he is not on the pitch and I explained how his season developed.
"He was in fantastic shape in December and January but sadly he had this injury and was out for two and half weeks.
"Since this moment, he has been struggling to get back to 100 per cent and that is the reason he has not been playing every minute.
"It was to protect him. This is quite normal for a young player that there are ups and downs in a season.
"I am totally happy with his season so far but I also spoke about a few topics that he has to improve.
"It is important that our young players get lots of praise, they deserve it. We will always back them.
"But it is also important that we are honest and speak about the topics that we want to develop.
"In the moment when, as a head coach, I am not allowed to speak in an honest way about a player and how he has to improve, I will retire from this job.
"During the development of our young players there has been a lot of love, but sometimes accepting some hard love is also the right way."
The man Buendia was brought in to replace, James Maddison, returns to Carrow Road with Leicester on Friday Night Football on Sky Sports.
Maddison has previously spoken about how Farke's 'hard love' approach helped his development from an exciting Championship player to England international.
Speaking about Maddison, Farke said: "I can remember during our first pre-season we did some running and he (Maddison) was lying there on the pitch with cramps and saying: 'I want to stop'.
"Sometimes you have to do this, it's not to punish a player.
"Young players have to learn that it is not all about them, it is about the team. Within that set-up, they can also shine."
More injury woe for Hernandez and Zimmerman
Norwich winger Onel Hernandez is out for at least eight weeks after having knee surgery.
The Cuban missed two months of action between August and October after he slipped and fell on his knee, suffering a lateral meniscus tear in the process.
Norwich captain Christoph Zimmerman will miss Friday's game against Leicester with a muscle strain.
The defender was out for almost three months after damaging ligaments in his foot during City's 2-0 defeat at West Ham in August.
Zimmerman's centre-back partner Timm Klose has featured just once this season after suffering a serious knee injury, but is nearing a return to first-team training.
Norwich, who are seven points from safety at the bottom of the Premier League, will also be without full-back Sam Byram for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.