Reading manager Brian McDermott has rubbished suggestions he has frozen Alex Pearce out amid uncertainty over the defender's future at the Madejski Stadium.
Pearce's contract runs out at the end of the season and while he has been offered a new deal he is yet to commit. The 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international was left out of the starting line-up for the second straight game in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at home to relegation rivals Wigan.
A frustrated McDermott has previously described Pearce's situation as "the longest negotiations in my life", but on Monday denied reports he had lost patience with his defender. "The contract does not come into it at all," he told Reading FC Player.
McDermott added: "Obviously I'm frustrated with the contract situation, it's a good offer, he's got to make his mind up. He says he wants to stay and play for me, he has to make his own mind up on that."
McDermott claimed he had dropped Pearce because of his performance in a 2-1 defeat to Stoke a fortnight ago.
Since then Sean Morrison has been preferred and impressed in the FA Cup defeat at Manchester United to keep his place at the weekend.
"I thought Morrison was excellent against United and it was just a personnel decision," McDermott said. "You live and die by that.
"I spoke to Pearcey on Friday, I said to him he needs to do better (for both goals against Stoke). He had to do better picking up Robert Huth for the set play and then when (Cameron) Jerome turned him for the second goal. He accepted that."
McDermott also revealed midfielder Danny Guthrie, who was overlooked at the weekend, was a doubt for this Saturday's trip to Everton after picking up a calf injury.
He said: "He wasn't selected for the squad (at the weekend). He (also) didn't train this morning with a slight calf problem."