Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce concedes his A-League outfit need more goals but has no plans to bring star striker Bruno Fornaroli in from the cold.
The coach and the Uruguayan sharpshooter have been at odds since round five when Fornaroli was dropped for failing to meet team standards.
That stand-off and an injury to Dario Vidosic has left City without an out-and-out striker, although Joyce has done to well to cobble together a makeshift attack that has his team fourth ahead of Tuesday night's home clash against Western Sydney.
City midfielder Luke Brattan told SEN on Monday it wasn't a good look for the marquee man to be sitting in the stands, adding there was frustration within the playing group about the impasse.
But asked about the likelihood of a truce and a return to A-League action for the former golden boot winner, Joyce was emphatic.
"There's no way forward ... that's as it stands at the minute," he told reporters on Monday.
"... It will just remain the same at the minute unless something drastic happens."
Pressed on whether there was a way back for Fornaroli should he choose to take it, the coach replied: "Every player has got a pathway in front of them to follow ... to choose what type of person they want to be."
With Fornaroli not an option, defender Ritchie de Laet has been redeployed in attack with reasonable effect of late.
City have enjoyed a run of good form despite managing just 17 goals from 14 games but have also conceded the least in the league (12).
"I think everybody is frustrated by (the Fornaroli situation) but I think they've dealt with it tremendously well," Joyce said of his players.
"They know what's gone on, they've pulled together behind the scenes to plug a hole and I think it's a credit to the team spirit with the way that they've done it really."
With the close of the January transfer window approaching, Joyce isn't confident a replacement striker will be signed but hasn't ruled it out.
Tuesday night's clash at AAMI Park will be their sixth game in 22 days, with a trip to New Zealand to take on Wellington Phoenix on Saturday to follow.
City will be boosted by the injury return of versatile Osama Malik, with Vidosic making progress in his recovery from a back injury.
Australian Associated Press