Ben Haim set to face Pompey fans

Tal Ben Haim will be used by Michael Appleton for the friendly with the Hawks    Picture: Robin Jones
Tal Ben Haim will be used by Michael Appleton for the friendly with the Hawks Picture: Robin Jones
Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler

Hawkins prompts Pompey transfer rethink

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Michael Appleton shrug-ged off the potential for an uncomfortable reception for Tal Ben Haim at the Hawks and told him: You’re playing.

Pompey take on Stuart Ritchie’s side at Westleigh Park tomorrow for their first friendly of the pre-season.

Blues players returned to training on Monday, among them the controversial Ben Haim.

The 30-year-old is refusing to budge on demands for £2m in order to rip up the remaining 12 months on his contract.

That stance continues to hamper chances of a takeover by either Portpin or the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, and still leaves the Blues with a mammoth annual wage bill of around £9.5m.

As a result, Ben Haim, right, continues to draw criticism from many Pompey fans.

Despite that, Appleton is adamant the former Bolton defender will be in the squad for tomorrow’s Westleigh Park clash.

And the Pompey boss insisted the possibility of a negative crowd reaction towards Ben Haim will not prevent him from leaving out the Israeli international.

Appleton said: ‘Anyone who is at the football club will play in that match. Anyone still here can expect to play.

‘That includes Tal – and the reaction any of the players may get is not my concern.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt everyone must play. We haven’t enough players to think about doing anything else.

‘At the end of the day, they get paid to play. They might not be getting paid as much as they would like at the minute but they are still getting paid.

‘So I have no qualms about putting Tal in there for the match.

‘Are we ready for the game? Are we heck, but it can’t be helped. It is good for the players.

‘They can spend all week training and working hard but you can’t replicate getting your fitness back through games. So they will benefit from it.

‘Whether players are going to be staying at Portsmouth or moving on, it is still important they have a pre-season. That is regardless if it is with us or someone else.’

Appleton is anticipating a tough examination for Pompey tomorrow.

He added: ‘It will be like a cup final for them. They are playing against one of the local sides and I’m sure will be bang up for the game.

‘You tend to find they are tough games anyway because you normally come across real fit lads, full of energy and desperate to succeed.

‘Probably one or two of them are also hoping to catch my eye and people at the game.

‘Lewis Stockford will be playing for them as well.

‘I saw him the other day and it will be a good opportunity for him to stick one up his old team!’