Fabio Capello warned Wayne Rooney that he may have put his Euro 2012 dreams at risk with his red card in Montenegro.
Capello's immediate reaction to the sixth red card of Rooney's tempestuous career was to defend him and express his continued trust in the 25-year-old, even though dismissal came just 24 hours after he was explicitly asked if he was in the correct frame of mind to play following his father's arrest over an alleged football betting scam.
The Italian was also at pains to point out Rooney remains part of his plans and, barring injury, will be part of his squad in
However, there was a pretty nasty sting in the tail of Capello's words, one that it is impossible to imagine predecessors
It may be incomprehensible to some, interpreted as a warning being delivered by others, or Capello just talking off the top of his head without any thought of the consequences.
But it is there. In lashing out at Miodrag Dzudovic, Rooney might just have been booting himself out of the European Championships.
"I need to find the solution for the first game, or two games, that Rooney will not play," Capello said.
"If we find that solution, he needs to work to return to the first 11.
"You know me. Sometimes I make mistakes but I try to select the best players, in the best moment of form."
"There were two I did not select for this game who are doing really well.
"I saw the game that
Did we hear that correctly? Are you really prepared to leave Rooney out even if one of the world's best players was available for selection.
"Yes," replied Capello firmly.
"In my life as a manager I have put on the bench a lot of players. I always decided who was the best player at that moment."
Furthermore, Rooney will be missing when England takes on world champion
"Rooney will not play against
"Sometimes he will come on at half-time. But not from the start. He will not start.
"We need to prepare the first XI who will start in the Euros.
"I have got a lot of forwards at this moment, really good forwards, and I need to find the best solution."
So now Rooney knows, if he was in any doubt before. Whatever mistakes Capello privately acknowledges about that atrocious World Cup campaign, keeping every player at arm's length is not among them.
England is likely to have three games before its squad for the finals needs to be named, and Capello intends to use them wisely.
"We've got something good," he said.
"And don't forget, we have some very good, important players, who are injured or not on top form.
All are set to get a chance over the coming months, with Netherlands
For some very established members of the England squad, there is a lot of work to do as reputations count for nothing and this time, Capello is unlikely to be panicked into trying to lure players out of retirement as he did so damagingly prior to the World Cup.
"I select the player, not the name," said Capello.
"Rio needs to play games. He has not played enough.
"He only played two games and last week he was on the bench.
"Sorry, but it's my job. I check all the players before I select them.
"If the player is at the top of his form I select them."
UEFA president Michel Platini said preparations for Euro 2016 were "progressing well" after a meeting of the organising committee in Lille.