PETER GRANT has dismissed suggestions of a fall-out with Dom Thomas but says the Pars star needs to work harder to return to the side.

The under-pressure Athletic boss insisted there were no issues between himself and the former Kilmarnock winger following rumours that the 25-year-old was looking to leave the club.

In the early stages of Grant's reign, Thomas was handed the captain's armband but, after being substituted at half-time during the 3-0 defeat to Partick Thistle – Dunfermline's second league match of the campaign – he has made just two appearances from the bench in the three games that have followed.

Thomas didn't come on during Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Ayr United, a result which left the Pars winless and three points adrift at the bottom after four games, and prompted an angry response from their supporters.

Addressing the situation this week, Grant said that the fans' favourite, who has been deployed in a more central role this season, had not been doing enough off the ball to help his team-mates, and that the team were "not good enough to carry one player".

He insists, however, that Thomas agrees with his assessment, and that the player had never caused him "one moment's problem".

"I think I've got to broach the subject because there is no issue with myself and Dom Thomas," Grant explained.

"Dom Thomas knows why he's out the side and the biggest thing is, and the most pleasing thing for me is, Dom agrees with why he's out the side, that he's not worked hard enough for the team.

"I get on exceptionally well with Dom. I've never had one moment's problem with him but the team's more important than any individual, and it always will be.

"When you've not got the ball, you've got to work extremely hard to make it difficult for the opposition.

"If you're not willing to do that, you don't play. You can't play because we're not good enough to carry one player. I don't think anybody in this division is good enough to carry one player without putting in the work ethic.

"You know you can have that little bit of class but the work ethic, the drive, the determination, the guts – they’re all so, so important ingredients you have to have. If you drop below that standard at any time there’s a possibility you’re going to get punished. That’s what I’m saying to Dom.

"The reason I’m broaching this subject is people think there’s a vendetta against Dom or whatever; there’s anything but.

"He was the captain here. I left him out when he was captain because I didn’t think he was working hard enough. When he lost possession of the ball, he lost it, everybody was running back to get it back for him, and he thought he didn’t need to do that.

"He knows that, for the way he’s allowed to play and the freedom I give him, he has to do that as a minimum. I can’t have people running 40, 50 yards by somebody walking. It’s impossible.

"Maybe Lionel Messi will get away with it but that’s about the only one. I don’t see many getting away without the work ethic.

"It doesn’t matter what team you are; you’ve got to have a work ethic, a desire, a commitment to try and do that, and Dom’s very receptive to that. He feels as if he’s been below that standard, so he knows that, and he accepts the fact he’s out the squad.

"People forget that I don’t leave them out. As I say to the players, during the week, you select the team. I pick it on a Saturday; it’s what I see with my eyes on the training field that is so, so important."

Grant continued: "I think he’s a real talented boy and I’ve tried to get him a couple of times on loan before.

"I came here and he had the captain’s armband on. I know what a talented player he is, he can be a match-winner, but I don’t want him to be a match loser.

"If somebody’s dominating a game and as a football player he’s the best player on the pitch, he’s on the ball for about two minutes of the game, three minutes of the game if you take all of the seconds into it.

"What you’re doing the rest of the time is so important for the team because the team is the most important thing, and Dom knows that.

"It would be worse if Dom didn’t think that. Dom knows the reason why he’s left out and Dom agrees with it.

"He says that he’s worked harder in the last few days – great, fantastic, but that’s got to be every single day. There is no day to switch off. I can’t say well, you’re alright not to work, but everybody else has got to run about, work and try.

"He knows that and he felt that himself. He understood why he was left out so there was no fall-out. I just need to clarify that.

"He had the captain’s armband on when I left him out the team. That shows you high a regard I have of him as a player.

"But what he also knows is the demand that I put on the players every single day has got to be the maximum.

"We talk about supporters giving me criticism, and I’ve got to accept that, so that’s why I’ve got to demand from the players that they give 100 per cent commitment.

"For me, I know how highly I regard him. You think I don’t want Dom to be in the team?

"But I can’t play a man down if I’ve not got the ball, because we aren’t good enough to do that, and that’s very important for me. Everybody’s got to give that commitment."