WIGAN Athletic have stepped up their pursuit of Reading FC defender Tyler Blackett.

Championship rivals Latics are thought to have made a third bid for the 24-year-old which was knocked back by Royals this week.

The offer is believed to be in the region of £450,000.

Reading, though, are reluctant to sell the former Manchester United player who is equally comfortable playing in central defence or left back.

Blackett has missed Reading’s last three matches through suspension including Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford following his red card in the 1-0 Championship loss at Millwall on Boxing Day.

Leandro Bacuna also picked up a three-match ban in that game and both are now available for selection for this Saturday’s home clash against Nottingham Forest (3pm ko).

Wigan boss Paul Cook is keen to strengthen at the back after Dan Burn’s loan return to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Cook sees Blackett as his chief transfer target, though Middlesbrough and Stoke City have also been linked.

However, it appears Reading boss Jose Gomes is in no mood to sell while his January clear-out continues.

A number of transfer-listed players have been frozen out by the Portuguese boss and told to stay away from the first-team squad.

There were two more departures yesterday after an agreement was reached with Dave Edwards to allow him to join Shrewsbury Town on a permanent deal.

Josh Sims also saw his season-long loan cut short and was sent back to parent club Southampton.

Academy striker Ben House has joined Swindon Town on loan, while Pelle Clement and Adrian Popa have also departed Madejski Stadium recently.

Meanwhile, Reading centre back Tiago Ilori is reported to be a target for his former club, Sporting Lisbon, in Portugal.

Gomes, who made Liverpool midfielder Ovie Ejaria his first signing yesterday, spelled out his hopes for the January transfer window, saying: “I think we should bring in four or five players.

“We are ready to take some decisions and in the right moment we will announce it.”