Steve Coppell has refused to promise Greg Halford a Reading debut against Portsmouth on Saturday.
Halford moved to Reading from Colchester in the January transfer window but his only action for the club so far has been at reserve level.
Graeme Murty is doubtful for this weekend due to a toe injury and Halford is tipped to start at right-back ahead of Ulises de la Cruz.
However, Coppell said: "He is in contention if Murty doesn't make it but right-back is probably the healthiest position I have got.
"In terms of numbers and personnel I can go one of a variety of ways.
"I'm sure Greg is desperate to make his debut but when he signed I said he wasn't a 14-game signing, he was a three or four-year prospect.
"You need to do the groundwork to become part of the group and he is obviously getting very close to that point.
"He was bought to play, not sit on the sidelines but sometimes you have got to be patient."
Reading lost 3-1 at Fratton Park in October and Coppell is keen for his side to exact revenge, but he expects a tough test.
"We were all very disappointed, not just me, with the level of performance," he recalled.
"Portsmouth were flying at the time and it was a bit of a beating to be honest.
"We would honestly like to put that right but they gave us a beating because they are a good team and are well capable of doing that to a lot of sides in the division."