Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter is wary of the consequences that could arise from putting fit-again stalwarts Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker into the starting line-up.
"Everyone in the squad has to understand that people don't walk back into the squad, they have to work hard," Baxter said at a training session in Naturena on Thursday.
"They have been working their socks off in training, because if they walk into the team what are the other players going to think?"
The places of Tshabalala, 30, and Parker, 28, who were previously sidelined by injury, have been filled with aplomb by youngsters George Lebese and Mandla Masango.
Baxter said he would continue to select his best starting 11 based on merit and at some point the team would start to rotate.
"I think we will go with the team that we think is best suited to win the game, and sometimes people get fatigued.
"I am sure we are not going to play with the same team every game, but whether or not they [Tshabalala and Parker] start we will see before kick-off."
The former Bafana Bafana coach praised the 25-year-old Lebese for the growth in his game, ahead of their Premiership clash against Maritzburg United on Saturday at the FNB Stadium.
"I just think George has been doing very well. He has lifted his game and he has produced. And as long as George keeps playing well, Shabba is a pro and knows that he will get his chance."
Baxter welcomed the competition for places, that was common in his squad.
"The guy in possession of the shirt has to do something wrong to lose it or the other guy has to do something outstanding, but that's part of the competition we have in this team."
It was crucial for the advancement of the team that at some point every key player contributed to the cause, he said.
"At the moment I think Bernard and Shabba are two of our best players and you feel that they will get into the line-up sooner or later, but the timing is very important."
Against Maritzburg at home, Amakhosi would be aiming to extend their winning streak which currently stands at seven matches in the Premiership and 10 in all competitions.
The Soweto giants, who snatched the first piece of silverware last weekend when they clinched the MTN8 final, are up against a team that last season snapped their string of nine consecutive wins in the league when they drew 2-2.
After that draw, Chiefs were unable to hit the ground running again as they relinquished the Premiership title to Mamelodi Sundowns during the home stretch of the title race.
Baxter sees his coaching counterpart Steve Komphela as the biggest hurdle in both teams' forthcoming tactical battle.
"Maritzburg will be difficult for many reasons because Steve is a creative coach, and even though he changes his players often he always gives them a game plan that suits them."
Amakhosi's MTN8 cup win, which was a culmination of their winning streak was a thing of the past Baxter said, and the focus had shifted towards the lengthy race for the league honours.
"We had a presentation before we did the debriefing on the Pirates game and it was about mental strength and responsibility. Not just responding to defeat but also to good things without getting carried away."
After the cup competition halt, Premiership action returns Friday with an encounter between Wits and AmaZulu at the Bidvest Stadium.