Reading manager Brian McDermott insists that Brian Howard still has a future at the club, despite the midfielder almost joining Southampton on loan.
The former Barnsley and Sheffield United playmaker has struggled to establish himself in the Royals' first team this season, starting just 17 league games.
The 28-year-old's loan switch to Southampton, the club where he started his career, collapsed after the Saints dropped their initial interest.
McDermott claims that he never wanted Howard to leave the Majedski Stadium, but felt that it was only fair to allow him to depart with first-team opportunities limited.
He told skysports.com: "I was just trying to be as fair to him as I could really because Brian is the type of player that just wants to be playing week in week out, which is great, but obviously he wasn't.
"I told him that if something came along that he liked then I wouldn't stand in his way and Southampton made a call to me about him, but they never followed it up.
"So, he played against Barnsley and did very well and we are very delighted that he is still with us until the rest of the season at least and then we will see what happens in the summer."
The Royals are in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in their last seven league games, but McDermott insists that the international break came at a good time for them, despite the potential loss of momentum.
"We are happy where we are at the moment, even though we were disappointed to go out of the FA Cup," he said.
"We responded very well after tasting defeat against Manchester City by getting a great result at Barnsley and we are really pleased with how things are going now.
"We have had lots of injuries and we'd like to get the whole squad back together as quickly as we can really, so the international break has come at a good time for us and most people in the league will probably say the same.
"It is such a tough division with games coming thick and fast, so a rest every now and again does everyone a favour, but the lads just want to play every week."