Pearce has yet to make any of Heckingbottom's matchday squads, despite being named in three of Thomas Christiansen's earlier in the season and a string of impressive displays for Leeds' Under-23s.
However, Heckingbottom, who arrived at Elland Road from Barnsley at the start of last month, has earmarked the left-back for a future first team role.
Asked about Pearce at his pre-Reading press conference, which was broadcast via Leeds' official Twitter page on Thursday, the 40-year-old said: "He's someone who I actually asked about when I was manager at Barnsley and we played the Under-23s here.I asked Danny Schofield who I know well and he mentioned him so I knew about him before I came.
| Watch Paul Heckingbottom’s Press Conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Reading... https://t.co/KznDLoKNci— Leeds United (@LUFC) 8 March 2018
"The academy staff speak highly of him, how he's progressed, how he's improved. I've had a sit down with him, had a chat with him about it and the awareness of where he thinks he's at is pretty good, which is a good sign, and he knows he's got to keep working and pushing if he wants to get in the team.
"But he's got attributes which are really good and that's why we want to work with him and we want to push him."
Vurnon Anita is the latest Leeds player to get a run out in Pearce's position this season, after Laurens de Bock, Gaetano Berardi and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who has since returned to Manchester United.
De Bock only signed for the Whites in January, but has failed to make any of Heckingbottom's last three starting line-ups and was left out entirely against Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Explaining the Belgian's absence, Heckingbottom said: "He's fit but [having to produce] the seven home-grown players within the 18 it just means that he had to miss out."