Pep Clotet provides clarity on Jude Bellingham absence amid transfer links

Birmingham boss Pep Clotet insists Jude Bellingham was rested this week and wasn't omitted from the FA Cup because he is being sold.

Brum wonderkid Bellingham, 16, didn't feature in the Championship club's 1-0 fifth round loss at top-flight Leicester on Wednesday night.

It coincided with claims from Germany that Borussia Dortmund are trying to sign the teenager for £30.4million.

Yet Clotet claims Bellingham's absence was because he has already played 34 games and scored four goals this term and he needs a rest ahead of Saturday's visit from Reading.

Head coach Clotet insisted: “Jude was not here for that reason.

“He was not here because I wanted to rest him because his fatigue levels were a little bit high and I wanted to get him good rest to so he can be fresh and ready for Saturday.

“At the end of the day he is sixteen years old and he has been playing a lot of games lately and I didn’t want to put too much load on him.”

Bellingham doesn't turn 17 until June when the scholar is allowed to sign a professional deal.

Brum officials hope it could yet be with them as his younger brother Jobe also plays for the club.

But most top clubs have been scouting Bellingham closely including Manchester United and Chelsea .

The versatile England U17 international midfielder has shown his maturity this term to play in three roles – upfront, central midfield and wide left.

Yet Clotet insists it is news to him if a deal has been done already to sell the youngster.

He added: “I cannot tell you much more because first of all I am not aware because I am a head coach and it’s not my area the recruitment, the ins and outs, and I haven’t been informed yet.

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