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Bulut omission a footballing call: Popa

AAP logoAAP 29/10/2016 Emma Kemp

Western Sydney striker Kerem Bulut was removed from Saturday's A-League squad because he's one of a few players who need to deliver more during training, says coach Tony Popovic.

Bulut and Uruguayan midfielder Bruno Pinatares were erased from the matchday line-up just hours before kick-off against Central Coast at Spotless Stadium.

Despite suffering from no known fitness issues the 24-year-old, who started the Wanderers' first three games, watched the 1-1 draw dressed in a suit from the Spotless Stadium stands.

Popovic said the call was a "footballing decision" just as it was to take out Bruno and, earlier, Shannon Cole.

"We feel we want more in training," Popovic said.

"They're in the same bracket, whether it's Kerem, Shannon, Bruno, other players who didn't make the squad, there's an expectation that we have.

"They're training every day and we want to see more from certain players.

"Kerem is just in that group."

Popovic staunchly denied the surprising omission had anything to do with attitude.

"I don't think we should say attitude because we don't say attitude about Bruno or Shannon but immediately we say attitude about Kerem Bulut," he said.

"I don't know why it's different."

Super-sub Brendon Santalab vindicated Popovic's decision to give him a start in place of Bulut, scoring the Wanderers' quickest A-League goal with 82 seconds gone.

But a commanding start fell away for the home side, undone by frustratingly wasteful finishing and Robbie Cornthwaite's costly defensive error that gifted the Mariners a second-half equaliser.

It was the club's second successive failure to convert a lead into victory and leaves last season's grand finalists in fifth with five points from their first four games before travelling to Perth next weekend.

Yet Popovic was encouraged results would come for his notoriously slow starters.

"Football can be cruel sometimes - you can play well and not get the result you want.

"We haven't got the number of points we want but we've gone three games now without a defeat.

"The players will keep believing and it will turn ... and we will put someone away soon if we keep playing that way."

Popovic also took a positive from the "excellent" starting debut of marquee playmaker Nicolas Martinez, who was hardworking and a picture of creativity during his hour-long appearance.

"He was tired in the second half but you expect that," Popovic said.

"But he'll just get better and better ... it's just the beginning for him.

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