Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho still hopes Karim Benzema can fulfil his potential at the Bernabeu.
The 22-year-old joined the Spanish giants for 35million euros from Lyon in the summer of 2009 but has failed to live up to expectations.
The France forward again put in a lacklustre performance when he was given a rare start by Mourinho in Tuesday's goalless Copa del Rey clash in Murcia before being substituted late on.
But Mourinho still believes Benzema, who has received negative press lately and has been linked with a January move away from the club, can turn things around.
He said: "I have always believed that players should be held responsible (for their performances). The coach is nothing more than a collaborator. It is up to the player.
"Much has been written about him, but the majority of it is untrue.
"He isn't playing well, but he isn't dead. He is very much alive and I called him up (for the squad to play Hercules on Saturday).
"We hope he can improve because he has the potential.
"Other teams have great players in similar situations and nothing has been said about them. Football is like this. Strikers feed off goals.
"Saturday he will start on the bench and if he has to play, he will. We have a good relationship."
Mourinho sang the praises of fellow Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, whose four-goal haul against Racing Santander last Saturday helped Madrid to a second consecutive 6-1 Primera Division win at the Bernabeu.
"Cristiano is an incredible team player," said the Madrid boss. "He won two games with Portugal and has won every game with Real Madrid this month.
"That's all that matters to the two of us.
"I knew the player, not the person. Now I know him and he is a true winner. He is always concerned about the team and about winning. He has had a fantastic month, he is in great form and he wants to continue."
Madrid head into the clash at Hercules unbeaten so far this term, sitting top of the domestic standings and their UEFA Champions League group, leaving Mourinho more than satisfied to the start he has made to life in his new role.
"Those who work closest with the first team have adjusted and are pleased with the way we are organised," he said.
"Structure is very important to the team and we are playing well for having been together for such little time. Sitting top in the Champions League and La Liga brings stability. I am very comfortable and happy."