St Johnstone veteran Chris Millar couldn’t mask his frustration at being substituted in the first half as the 2014 Scottish Cup winners exited the competition at Tynecastle on Saturday.
The midfielder was replaced by striker Denny Johnstone after 26 minutes with Hearts a goal up and en route to a 3-0 victory.
But Saints manager Tommy Wright insisted Millar (34) has a role to play as the Perth men bid to edge clear of the relegation area.
Wright said: “Chris Millar is a member of the squad like anyone else and obviously he wasn’t happy about coming off.
“That’s a good thing in my book.
“I don’t want players smiling when they are taken off.
“I made the change because Chris is a defensive midfielder and it was a cup game that we wanted to win.
“Would I have made a change so early in a league game? Probably not.
“But I wanted another striker on after going a goal down early on.
“Chris has a big part to play between now and the end of the season and he has been told that.
“I know what Chris will do for me and the team.
“I am here to make decisions and there’s no problem with Chris. End of story.”
Former Dundalk striker David McMillan won’t be ready to face Celtic this weekend as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained against Partick Thistle and midfielder Stefan Scougall is braced to miss the rest of the campaign with an ankle problem.
“George Williams will be ready for Celtic and hopefully give us a spark, Brian Easton will be coming back and David should be back soon, maybe for Ross County,” said Wright.
“He won’t make the Celtic game. He is still with the physio and hasn’t been back on the grass yet.”
Meanwhile, Saints now have dates for two of their rearranged games.
They will face Hamilton Accies at home on Saturday, March 3 (kick-off 3pm) and Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Wednesday, March 7 (7.45).