New twist in Ben Haim saga

The futures of Tal Ben Haim and Michael Brown remain up in the air
The futures of Tal Ben Haim and Michael Brown remain up in the air
Michael Smith has not been included in this year's team photo

Striker omitted from Pompey team photo

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Tal Ben Haim’s Pompey status has been shrouded in further mystery after Steve Cotterill admitted he has been instructed not to select the defender.

The Israeli has been back training with the Blues for almost three weeks following a loan spell at West Ham.

It was previously understood that Ben Haim would not be available to play for Pompey while he sorted out a dispute over his contract with the Hammers.

However, West Ham insist that wrangle has now been resolved.

Despite that, and the fact Cotterill has always maintained he wants to select the Israeli, Ben Haim – who is Pompey’s highest-wage earner – is still no closer to pulling on a Blues shirt again.

And it remains unclear as to who is currently paying his wages, reported to be £36,000 a week.

Cotterill said: ‘Tal is training with us. From my understanding, he can’t play for us.’

There had been rumours Pompey sought to suspend Ben Haim from training last week, although that was denied by chief executive David Lampitt.

When The News contacted Ben Haim’s agent, Pini Zahavi, to ask the situation with the 28-year-old’s availability and discover who is funding his wages, he said: ‘Maybe you should ask Portsmouth what is going on with Tal.’

However, Lampitt was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, after Nottingham Forest made enquiries over Michael Brown, a new unnamed club has moved to take the midfielder on an emergency loan.

Cotterill added: ‘I have told Michael and given the club his number to have a chat with him. It’s not Forest, it’s another club. But there is nothing further to add on Richard Hughes.’