READING FC have cooled their interest in Aston Villa defender Tommy Elphick.

Boss Paul Clement is a keen admirer of the 30-year-old who spent four months on loan with Royals last season.

It is thought Reading had the option of signing Elphick permanently, but sources say the door has been left open by Villa boss Steve Bruce as the club look to save £40m to remain within tight Financial Fair Play restrictions.

However, should Royals lose star man Liam Moore over the summer, the 46-year-old could reignite his interest in Elphick.

Clement said: “There is no news at the moment. As we speak we have four central defenders in John O’Shea, Liam Moore, Paul McShane and Tiago Ilori.

“If that stays as it is there won’t be a need to bring in another centre-back. But if that changes then it’s a different situation.”

Ex-Bournemouth defender Elphick endured a frustrating spell with Royals and made just four loan appearances due to persistent injury.

Clement added: “Tommy is a player that I liked. Unfortunately, he didn’t play much because of his injury, but even in that last game-and-a-half, he showed he has good ability and could potentially be a good player for us.

“He’s still an Aston Villa player and there’s no news on him coming here.”

Former Leicester City star Moore has been tipped as a transfer target for Premier League outfit Brighton.

And when asked if Elphick’s future could depend on Royals keeping hold of Moore, Clement replied: “If you lose any of the centre-backs, whether it’s Moore or the other three, I always like to have four centre-backs fit and available.

“If you have three it’s difficult to operate because if you get an injury you’re in trouble.

“There are recruitment targets we have that we want to bring in as soon as possible. You always have to be ready in case another club comes in with a bid that the owners feel is too good to turn down, whether he is for sale or not for sale.”

Clement has brought in John O'Shea, David Meyler and Andy Yiadom during the transfer window and has been linked with a number of other targets, including Coventry City's Marc McNulty.

Royals are believed to have tabled two bids up to £500,000 which have so far been rejected by Sky Blues.