West Ham duo set to miss crunch Stoke City clash

Boss Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim to miss trip to Potteries for Yom Kippur

Both Avram Grant and Tal Ben Haim will be not take part in the Hammers clash with Stoke City at the Britannia on Saturday.

The Israeli pair have been allowed leave for religious reasons, with the match falling on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

The duo will take part in a day-long fast as well as prayer for the festival, with their absence receiving the blessing of the club.

It is thought Grant will pick the team for the vital clash in the Potteries as the Hammers search for their first league points of the campaign.


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After Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea the boss was adament his absence will have little effect on the team’s preparation.

“It is a private matter and I need to speak to the owners and others, but one thing I can assure you is that the team will be ready 100 per cent for the game,” he said.

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With Grant absent, it is likely that the coaching staff of assistant manager Zeliko Petrovic, senior coach Paul Groves and first team coach Kevin Keen will be the ones who will be issuing the instruction from the sideline.

The absence of Ben Haim is also likely to hit the team hard, after the central defender put in a solid showing against Chelsea at Upton Park.

Playing alongside captain Matthew Upson, the 28-year-old did not put a foot wrong against the champions, reading the game well and dealing with the physical threat of top striker Didier Drogba.

There has been a lack of solidity in the back-line with Upson paired with three different players already, a problem which the former Arsenal man hoped had been solved.

“We need the stability. It’s so hard to get that momentum and clarity of what your job is when things are changing all the time,” he said.

“We need players to come in and stamp their authority on a position and make it their own.

“I thought Tal did all right. His positioning is good and he uses the ball pretty well. We just need somebody to stamp their authority.

“I think every good team has that and in every position we need to have that kind of stability.

“We need to get that momentum going as a unit and stop conceding goals, which has been a problem for us.”

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