The coach of the reigning premiers wants his players to concentrate on performing amid speculation about whether or not their marquee man will stay on for a third termWestern Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic is refusing to get too far ahead of himself. And he's encouraging his contract-hungry players to do the same.
Following a dominant 2-0 derby win over fierce local rivals Sydney FC on Saturday night, with a standout performance from marquee midfielder Shinji Ono, Popovic has only one thing on his mind.
And it's not contract talks with the Japanese superstar.
"It was a good solid all-round performance against Sydney in the derby but we've got to now put that out of our minds and try get that first win at home now," said Popovic on Monday.
Ono, 34, in the final year of his contract with the A-League premiers, lived up to his marquee status in the win over the Sky Blues with a goal of individual brilliance plus an assist for Iacopa La Rocca.
And while the Japanese has expressed a desire to finish his career at the club, Popovic is refusing to get drawn into the recent hype.
"I think it's early to speak about that," said Popovic on Monday when asked about extending Ono's contract.
"We'll assess all that and speak to Shinji at the right moment as we did last year, so I don't feel any pressure to start talks now."
Despite playing down the need to secure Ono beyond season's end, the manager is fully aware of the impact the player is having for his side - and not only on the pitch.
"He was excellent," said Popovic of Ono's mesmeric derby performance.
"He did what we expect Shinji to do. He's a class act and he's got those special moments with his quality and he showed that again in a big game and we're hopeful that'll continue throughout the year and he'll get us many more points.
"He probably doesn't take enough credit himself for what he's done here with our club," continued Popovic.
"He's brought a real level of professionalism to the playing group and I think these players really appreciate having him here and learning from him. He's been to three World Cups, he's done everything in the game and he still wants to get better every day so we're delighted to have him here."
Wanderers, sitting second on the ladder and undefeated with five points from three games behind Brisbane Roar (six points), welcome Adelaide United to Parramatta Stadium on Friday night hoping to secure their first home win of the season.
However, Popovic will be sweating on the fitness of another influential midfielder, Youssouf Hersi, who was stomped on during the derby win and remains a doubt for the clash.
"We're still waiting for the scan results," said the manager.
"We need to check there is no small fracture on the foot and we're hopeful that it's just bone bruising and he won't be out long-term."
Given the Wanderers are undefeated in the last 20 games the Ethiopia-born Dutchman has played in you can understand why.