Appleton praises under-fire Ben Haim

Tal Ben Haim during the Championship clash with Peterborough
Tal Ben Haim during the Championship clash with Peterborough
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton has praised the attitude of under-fire Tal Ben Haim.

The Israeli defender is Pompey’s biggest earner, picking up a reported £36,000 a week.

Signed by Peter Storrie on a four-year contract in August 2009, the wages remain a massive headache as the Blues battle to stay in existence.

Ben Haim has unquestionably been a consistent performer this season, making 27 appearances.

But in many fans’ eyes he represents times when the club outlived its means – and Pompey continue to pay the costly price.

In a club wage bill of around £12.5m, Ben Haim is by a considerable distance the best-paid player.

But Appleton cannot fault his displays on the pitch in recent weeks.

He said: ‘Tal has been good for us over a period of six, seven, eight games since he’s come back into the side.

‘I wouldn’t question his attitude from that point of view.

‘He went down with a virus on Tuesday morning so couldn’t travel to Reading.

‘I spoke to him briefly and he sounded a bit rough.

‘We will assess him over the next 24 hours and hopefully he will be okay for Brighton.’

The former Bolton man wasn’t alone in missing the 1-0 Madejski Stadium defeat.

Veteran strikers Kanu and Benjani were also absent from the squad.

Kanu, who has never featured under Appleton, is currently nursing a persistent back problem.

He is contracted until the summer of 2013.

As for Benjani, he is out with a calf problem.

Appleton added: ‘Benjani has got a calf injury.

‘And Kanu is in a position where he was before with his back and is just not fit enough to play.’