Defender told he still has Pompey future

Tal Ben-Haim
Tal Ben-Haim
Pompey beat Charlton to help get back on track and must continue to push on. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Tal Ben-Haim has been told he still has a Pompey future.

Steve Cotterill has pledged to pick the controversial defender this season.

The Blues boss is hopeful the club’s long-standing pay dispute with the Israeli international can soon be settled.

Ben Haim claims he is owed £1.4m by Pompey in unpaid wages.

The case will be assessed at a Football League hearing later this month.

In the meantime, Cotterill is planning to include the 29-year-old for first-team duty.

On the transfer front, Stephen Henderson and Luke Varney’s arrivals are imminent, while Greg Halford is also expected to join this week.

In addition, Pompey are interested in Blackpool’s Ian Evatt, although it is believed the Seasiders are reluctant to let the defender leave.

Now Cotterill is looking at boosting his options further by bringing Ben-Haim in from the cold.

Cotterill said: ‘As it stands at the moment, I am expecting Tal back in here.

‘If he is here this time I will be selecting him.

‘Who says I am even going to play him at centre-back?

‘I think his unavailability before was more dominated by the previous ownership.

‘We’ve got an opportunity to build for the future here so there will be a lot of short-term and a lot of long-term in my thoughts.

‘When Tal came back in January he trained every day.

‘He has got no choice if he wants to play here.

‘Tal won’t go missing like he did the year before for three months on end, that’s for sure.’

Ben-Haim is expected to return to training on Friday, having been given additional time off.

He received permission from Cotterill after playing for Israel this summer.

Yesterday’s return to full pre-season training saw just eight players feature.

That will be swelled at the end of this week with the return of Ben-Haim, Kanu and Liam Lawrence.

Hermann Hreidarsson is also expected back once his contract is signed.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Henderson yesterday had a medical ahead of his move.

Pompey’s opening friendly is at the Hawks on Monday, July 11.

Despite Cotterill’s desire to bring back Ben-Haim, though, it is doubtful whether the former Bolton man will be involved.

Cotterill added: ‘I’m not sure about Tal, Hermann or Liam playing against Havant & Waterlooville.

‘I just want to see them back here first.

‘They have got to have their testing done first of all. I need to find out where they are.

‘The other players are ahead of them in that respect.

‘We’ll just have to wait and see.’