Wellington Phoenix trio Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry have been dumped for the squad to face Brisbane Roar this weekend for a “lack of professionalism”.
Phoenix coach Des Buckingham confirmed the news following speculation on Thursday, although he refused to explain the circumstances behind the specific incident.
He confirmed it wasn't a criminal matter and said the players hadn't met standards set within the club following Saturday's 5-1 home loss to Melbourne City.
Wellington have claimed one point from their past five games and appear unlikely to make the finals, despite being five points outside the top six with seven games to play.
"The lack of professionalism from the three of them after what was a very disappointing result is the reason that the three of them will miss out this weekend," Buckingham said.
"We spoke after the game about needing players who were going to dig in and help us get seven important games for the season back on track.
“It’s an internal matter that has been dealt with. They’ll miss this weekend’s game."
Buckingham said the three players' reactions to their axings had been mixed but the decision had the support of the playing group.
"It’s important players understand we’re in this together," he said.
"It’s a professional football club, professional team, professional staff, we’ve got fans paying good money to come and support this club.
"It’s important evey single player over the next seven weeks needs to recognise their own responsibility to do their job."
Buckingham, who revealed his own disappointment in the situation, added that no decision had been made beyond this weekend about the trio.
"There’s been no further decision on whether that will affect them going forwards from this point," he said.
"Those three will still be part of that for the rest of the season, but whether or not they come back into squad selection is a discussion to have at a later date."