European captain Paul McGinley admits he is concerned about the loss of form which has seen Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter drop out of the automatic qualifying places for Gleneagles.
Poulter, who inspired the 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012 and finished with a 100 per cent record in Chicago, looked almost certain to make the team when he finished second, fifth and second in the final three events of last season.
But the 38-year-old Englishman has registered just one top-five finish in 2014 and Martin Kaymer's victory in the Players Championship a fortnight ago knocked him out of the qualifying places.
"I'm aware of how Poults is doing," McGinley said. "He made a lot of points early in the campaign, but is not in the team at the moment as he's just been pushed out.
"But he's in that second tier and one more good week and he's right back in it again. There's a long way to go. I'm a little bit concerned what's happening right now, but not worried.
"I spoke to him for a good 45 minutes on the phone last week and we had a really good chat. He knows he has my support like all the players do. He's determined to be there but he has to earn his place. I've said it before and I told him last week, he has to earn his place. He knows that."
Asked if he would still select Poulter if he was off form at the end of August, McGinley added: "It depends on what you term by form. He knows he needs to step on the gas over the summer. He needs to improve.
"But he's making cuts and he's finishing decent, he's not way off form, not miles away. He feels he's got his scehdule a little bit wrong. He hasn't really had a run of tournaments, but starting now he has this run of tournaments over the summer. He's really up for it."
Only five of the team from two years ago are currently in the automatic qualifying places, but McGinley has been delighted by the form shown by Sergio Garcia recently.
And he hopes he and Poulter can guarantee their place on his team by first achieving some individual glory.
"I walked a couple of holes with Sergio at the Players and I don't think I've ever seen him hit the ball better. Absolutely phenonemal," McGinley added. "Sergio loves the Ryder Cup and is pretty much guaranteed in the team you can say now.
"But the important thing for Sergio is to forget about the Ryder Cup. It's about playing week in week out and trying to win tournaments and majors. I said the same to Poults, 'Forget about the Ryder Cup. You deserve a major, go and win a major'."
Garcia's fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez is also on the verge of the team after winning the Spanish Open last week, but McGinley warned the 50-year-old he will also have to deserve his place as Europe's oldest ever player.
"It would be a great story, no doubt. But I'm not here write a fairytale, I'm here to pick the best team to win the Ryder Cup," McGinley said. "If Miguel makes it then tremendous, if he doesn't he doesn't. He's in a great run of form, but it's important that he has a really good summer and continues this run of form through to the US PGA and right up to Italy (the final counting event) really."