Sam Allardyce has hit out at player of the year Steven Nzonzi's attitude, saying that he has been happy to give the midfielder a 'kick up the backside' by axing him from the Blackburn side.
Nzonzi had been targeted by Arsenal, before signing a five-year deal last month, and was an impressive performer as Blackburn finished comfortably in mid-table last season. But Allardyce is furious with the conduct of Frenchman Nzonzi, 21, since the summer.
The Blackburn boss is also planning to take special care to ensure Nzonzi's replacement - Phil Jones - does not get too big-headed, now that he has become a midfield regular.
Allardyce said: 'Steven is a young man who has gone home in the summer and, for me, has come back and thinks it is just going to happen. Young lads do that. He has got a kick up the backside and needs to take it on the chin and, when he gets back, show me he is back to his normal self.
'I don't think he has been unlucky, I just don't think he has played to the level he played last year. That is the reason why he hasn't put himself in the side.
'Vinny (Grella), who struggled last year because of injuries, has kept himself a little bit fitter and is now getting himself in the frame a little bit more. That puts pressure on Steven.'
Nzonzi has been forced to settle for a place on the bench in the last four games, coming on as a substitute. Allardyce thinks Jones - who has now become a fixture in midfield, having emerged as a centre-back - is a good example for Nzonzi to follow.
'It has been a good start for Phil Jones. He has carried on from where he left off last year. We have to keep a close eye on him and make sure he does not slip away in terms of getting carried away with all the attention he is getting.
'He had two outstanding games for the England Under 21s. He has been outstanding in the middle. It is not his normal position but he is very comfortable with it. He has to continue to move forward, though.
'He ran further than ever in his life according to the stats against Manchester City. He has set himself a new standard and now we'll ask him to hit that standard as many times as possible.'
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