Mayo manager John O'Mahony moved yesterday to dispel Ciaran McDonald's assertion that he wasn't wanted by the county' senior management any more.
In a rare interview on Tuesday, McDonald challenged O'Mahony to tell him directly that he wasn't part of the Mayo plans any longer.
But O'Mahony says there is no question of him "retiring" or "forcing anybody" out of the panel.
McDonald hasn't started for Mayo since the 2006 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry.
He damaged muscles in the back prior to that game and this, it has been thought, has been the reason why he has played so little football for Mayo since. Twice in last year's championship against Galway and Derry, the Crossmolina man made cameo appearances.
But since then his contact with O'Mahony and Mayo has been minimal. He missed a championship debriefing meeting three weeks after the Derry qualifier defeat but spoke intermittently with O'Mahony over the winter, the last time a few weeks ago.
McDonald says he found the invitation -- by text -- to a trial game "strange" given his length of service to Mayo.
O'Mahony says his squad, finalised recently, is based on what he and his selectors saw during the national league.
"There's no question of forcing anybody out the panel. We have picked it on the basis of what we saw during the League, during which we used 31 players. It was open-ended but obviously there came a time when we had to make a call for the championship," he said yesterday.
"Our job it to get the best possible panel we can all pulling in the same direction in the interests of Mayo football. That's what we have done in this case but if a situation arises at any stage where a player is performing so well at club level that he deserves to get into the county set-up, it will happen.
"That applies to all players whether they have played for the county before or not," added O'Mahony.
That leaves the door open for McDonald to return but given the tone of his comments in the interview it may be difficult.
"As far as I'm concerned, it all about what's good for Mayo football. That's my only interest and only priority," said O'Mahony.
"The reality is that for the last 18 months he wasn't in a position to play. Maybe that will change in the future."