Ben-Haim return in doubt

Dion Donohue Picture: Jason Chadwick

Midfield could be the home for Pompey signing-in-waiting

Steve Cotterill has admitted he is unsure whether Tal Ben-Haim will return to Pompey next month.

But the Blues boss is keen to welcome back the defender.

The Israel international's loan spell at West Ham is up in two weeks time.

Ben-Haim made the Upton Park switch in August, with Pompey desperate to reduce their Premier League-sized wage bill.

Since then, he has featured in nine matches for Avram Grant's side, although only five have come in the Premier League.

West Ham have still to make a decision on whether to extend the former Bolton man's loan stay or take up the option of making the move permanent.

For Pompey, his reported wages of 36,000-a-week represent a massive stumbling block should he return.

Regardless, he's a player Cotterill would like to see back as he strives to bolster his paper-thin squad.

He said: 'I don't know the answer to whether Tal is coming back or not.

'Him coming back over the hill is something I have looked at, but whether that is going to happen or not, I don't know.

'I would imagine it will maybe come out this week.

'For sure, I would want him here. Anyone would be a good addition to our squad at this moment in time.

'When Tal was here before I liked him. I got on well with him, I think he was a nice guy.

'I didn't get a chance to have a look at him too much as a footballer but he was a nice guy and I liked him.

'One of my last conversations with him was when he was going to play at Havant and then I had a phone call to say he couldn't (because he was off to West Ham).

'It was 1.30 to 1.45pm, just after he had finished warming up.

'Hopefully, those sort of days are behind us. But I don't know the real answers to whether Tal will stay there or come back.'

Ben-Haim made 24 appearances for the Blues last season after arriving from Manchester City on a four-year deal.

However, a groin problem sidelined him for the majority of the march to Wembley in the FA Cup.

His sole match in that competition came in the last-four triumph over Birmingham in March – and he would play just two more matches in that season.

The defe-nder had a relegation-release clause in his contract and was expected to leave Fratton Park upon their relegation to the Championship.

But he remained, prompting administrator Andrew Andronikou to spend the summer seeking another club to take him in a bid to slash the wage bill.

Now Ben-Haim is facing the next crossroads of his career.

Cotterill, left, added: 'Tal's been in and out a bit at West Ham.

'He's played a few cup games and did okay against Manchester United the other week.

'He's somebody who can play in a few positions, which is not bad for us.

'That is where Greg Halford is good for us.'