Stoke boss Tony Pulis has described the situation surrounding wantaway goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as being part of a "disease" in football.
Begovic missed the Potters' 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, with Pulis claiming afterwards that the 23-year-old had refused to play. But the Professional Footballers' Association revealed Begovic subsequently contacted them saying that he did not refuse to take part in the match but said he would prefer not to play if there was an alternative.
That does not seem to have improved the Bosnian's position with his manager though, and Pulis said: "I'm disappointed that the kid has come out now and said that it wasn't him who decided he wasn't going to play. I think that is desperately disappointing and I will speak to him about that."
He added: "We had a (team) meeting on Tuesday, I picked the team, he was in it and then we went out and trained. I told Carlo Nash he was going to be on the bench, I told Thomas Sorensen he wasn't involved, and I will leave you to decide then who changed who's opinion.
"I'm really disappointed with the stuff that has come out, but we'll deal with it in-house and we certainly won't be pushed or bullied into a situation where we are releasing players, never mind what the situation is."
Begovic, who has been linked with Chelsea this summer, only joined Stoke from Portsmouth last season and Pulis has vowed to stand up for the Potters against anybody looking to tempt the player away.
"He's a good kid and he has been smashing ever since he joined this club, but something has turned his head," Pulis said.
"It happens now in football and he is not the only one it has happened to - people blow in their ears, outside influences, and sometimes unfortunately they overstep the mark.
"I think you have to be strong enough as a football club, no matter how much pressure is being put on, to stand up at times and really protect your club. We paid good money to buy him and pay him good money to be here and play for this football club.
"It's not all to do with the kid - there are people behind the scenes who have to take responsibility as well for what has gone on."