By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Kovac explains starting places for Vranckx and Paredes: "We're in a meritocracy."

VfL Wolfsburg trainer Niko Kovac - among other things - covered the topic of his recent personnel choices at a Monday presser. 
VfL Wolfsburg trainer Niko Kova made no apologies for his decision to bench squad skipper Maximilian Arnold for the second consecutive match during Sunday's 2-2 draw with SV Werder Bremen. The 29-year-old captain made way for Belgian Aster Vranckx in both the recent cup win over RB Leipzig and the latest league encounter. The move came as somewhat of a surprise given that Wolfsburg were actively trying to offload Vranckx during the last transfer window.

"We are in a meritocracy," Kovac said, "And if Aster does well, I can't explain to him that he'll be out again in the next game. Then he'll be angry, so Max is probably angry at the moment. Which is okay. If Aster continues to play like that, than I have no alternative. Every player has a chance to offer himself in training. The coach decides on the lineup and everyone has to respect that. You have to wait for your chance if you fall behind."

Kovac also spoke on another new addition to his starting XI. Versatile American attacker Kevin Paredes - after making just one start for Kovac last year - has featured in the XI on the last two league match days. The Riding, Virginia native was instrumental in a VfL goal scored last week against Augsburg and netted his second Bundesliga goal in Sunday's draw.

Paredes' integration in the XI has much to do with the absence of Patrick Wimmer due to injury, but Kovac wanted to make certain that the 20-year-old's inclusion was absolutely also merit based. Paredes had, until recently, been used almost exclusively by Kovac as a spark plug off the bench.

"Kevin is an asset to our team thanks to his enthusiasm for the game," Kovac said of the youngster, "No matter which position he plays in, whether it's on the wing, at left back in the back three or at number eight. I'm delighted with this development and he's not an American international for nothing. He will continue to get his chance. If he continues to train so well and work hard, I can see a good future for him."

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