Steve Cotterill celebrated Tal Ben Haim’s unlikely Pompey revival and insisted: He’s a key part of our team now.
Cotterill praised the Israel international’s attitude after coming in from the cold at Fratton Park.
Ben Haim has put a contract wrangle which was heading for a Football League hearing behind him to become a first-team regular for the Blues this season.
Agreement was reached on that dispute, which revolved around wages owed to the defender after he returned from a loan spell at West Ham last season.
Despite Ben Haim’s days at the club looking numbered at the start of this summer, the 29-year-old has returned to the fray at left-back.
He has delivered a string of steady performances in an ever-present league campaign so far.
Cotterill lauded his return and the manner in which he has integrated himself back into the first-team set-up at Pompey.
The Blues manager admitted he had reservations about the player but he has been delighted with his conduct this season.
Cotterill said: ‘I think it’s important Tal’s happy.
‘He has been playing well this season.
‘He’s perhaps dipped at times in the past couple of games but that will happen.
‘He’s naturally a right footer even though he can play left-back.
‘So we have a right footer who’s playing on the left.
‘Tal’s up for the challenge, though.
‘He’s part of the group now and involved. He’s not aloof.
‘When I first came here, it would have been easy to think that with all the problems with him last season as well.
‘But that’s not the case and he’s very much in with the rest of the team.
‘They are all together and the spirit is good.’
Cotterill pinpointed Ben Haim as showing exactly the kind of attitude he is trying to engender at Pompey.
It was Ben Haim who was the first to lift floored pair Jamie Ashdown and Erik Huseklepp after their mistakes proved costly in the 3-2 defeat against Peterborough last week.
It was a gesture which wasn’t lost on the player’s manager.
Cotterill said: ‘Something happened in a game a few weeks back, and we mentioned when a player makes a mistake it’s the others’ responsibility to pick them up.
‘To show public support for someone in those circumstances is brave yourself. I think that’s what you should do.
‘When you mess up on the field, there is not a better time to show support for your team-mates.
‘I noticed that with Tal against Peterborough. That’s the type of thing I look for. So I’m pleased he did that.’
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