Rene Meulensteen says Bryan Ruiz was left out of Fulham's squad for the FA Cup draw at Norwich to give a chance to the club's youngsters.
While the Dutch boss gave game time to several of his fringe players at Carrow Road, Ruiz failed to even make the bench for the second successive game.
The Costa Rican has featured just twice since Meulensteen took charge at the beginning of December and has been linked with a move away from Craven Cottage.
Spanish strugglers Real Betis are the latest side to express an interest in the out-of-favour 28-year-old, who cost Fulham more than £10million from FC Twente back in 2011.
However, Meulensteen insists the decision to leave him out of the squad was to blood some of Fulham's academy prospects.
He said: “We looked at it and if you bring young players in you’ve got to weigh things up.
"In this case we thought it was better to give other young players an opportunity on the bench."