Jim Jefferies has warned shamed Hearts defender Craig Thomson that he might not be picked next season.
Thomson has been handed a reprieve by the club's board after pleading guilty to lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour towards two under-age girls.
The decision not to sack the 20-year-old has caused outrage at the Edinburgh club, with supporters and children's charities slamming owner Vladimir Romanov.
Hearts boss Jefferies had no say in the matter and will have Thomson within his ranks when the new Scottish Premier League campaign gets underway.
He is, however, fully aware of the furore surrounding the Scotland U21 international and has hinted that he may opt to sideline him on a permanent basis.
Jefferies told the Daily Record: "I knew what the reaction would be and he can't have any complaints because it was a bad, bad thing he did.
"One of the worst things it's possible to do. He has made a grave error.
"It gives us a situation. We have to make sure if he ever gets back in the team - and let's not forget there's competition for places - how would he handle what's coming to him.
"We have to be sure because at the end of the day that's going to affect the performance of the rest of the players.
"We can't allow it to become a bit of a sideshow which gets out of hand.
"I think he would be going into something he has never been prepared for. He might find it will be tough for him from now on.
"But the board have made their decision regarding the matter. It's not an ideal situation."