Hearts: Jamie Walker's focus has dropped, says coach Ian Cathro
Jamie Walker was left out of his Hearts' squad against Dunfermline after "a little drop-off in his performance levels and his focus", Ian Cathro says.
The attacker, 24, is contracted until next summer and has been the subject of failed bids by Rangers this summer.
"Jamie's been under a lot of attention, a lot of speculation all linking him to one particular club," said boss Cathro.
"We'll support him but everyone has to do the right things and respond properly."
Walker started the earlier League Cup first-round group games against Elgin City, East Fife and Peterhead but Cathro decided not to include him against the Pars - a match Hearts needed to win to secure qualification to the next round but drew and then lost the resulting penalty shoot-out.
"It's been quite a difficult situation for him, which I think at first, he's managed to deal with well and of course we'll support him," Cathro told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound before Saturday's game.
"I love his talent, I love the way that he plays but I would say just now it's just starting to affect his focus and his performance levels with us a little bit.
"So, naturally, in situations like that there are some players who are more deserving of being with us today and they're more deserving of their starting place in the team.
"Jamie's a Hearts player, an incredibly talented one, one I enjoy working with and he just has to respond correctly and work his way back into the team.
"There's just been a drop-off, a little drop off in his performance levels and his focus, which just takes us below the level that he needs to be at - like everyone, like all of his team-mates need to be at in order to be part of our team."
Asked if he thought Walker would respond to being left out and stay at the club, Cathro replied: "100%. That's his responsibility.
"He's a Hearts player, he's a fans' favourite, he's a top talent, he's someone who knows how highly regarded he is by everyone in the club - myself being one of the loudest in giving praise to him."