Lucien Favre has made it clear Mario Gotze faces a fight for first-team football at Borussia Dortmund this season.
The Germany international was taken off after 64 minutes of the 2-1 DFB-Pokal win at Greuther Furth last month and then failed to get off the bench in his side's opening two Bundesliga games of the season.
Favre used a 4-3-3 system in those matches, a 0-0 draw at Hannover and a 4-1 win over RB Leipzig, with Mahmoud Dahoud, Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney preferred in midfield.
And the Dortmund head coach admits it is difficult to fit Gotze into his side given his other options for the central roles.
"I think it depends on our system," he told a news conference. "I said that it would take time for us to find our best team and our best system. There are a lot of tactical decisions to be made.
"We have to tell the truth. Mario can play in a central position. He can play in our 4-3-3 system. You have to play athletically and with a lot of dedication.
"Against Leipzig and Hannover, we played with three players in central midfield. Mario can play in one of those positions, but we have many players that can play there.
"We have eight or nine players there, and we have [Shinji] Kagawa and Marco Reus and Mario. There are many players. It's a fact."
Gotze has struggled for regular first-team football since his return to Dortmund from Bayern in 2016, with fitness problems partly behind him making only 28 league starts in the last two seasons.
Dortmund hosts Eintracht Frankfurt in its next Bundesliga match on Friday.