Tal backing team-mates

Tal Ben Haim is backing his West Ham United team-mates to do the business at Stoke City this weekend.

Ben Haim will not be available because of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, but is sure his team-mates can hit the back of the net first at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Hammers have fallen behind in all of their opening four league matches, leading to four disappointing defeats.


"In the Premier League it is very important that you score first, because when you score first you have a big chance to win the game," the Israel centre-back told WHUTV. "Of course we should be optimistic. I'm sure that if we get one or two good results we can move forward."

The 28-year-old was a calm and composed presence against his former club, defending strongly, using the ball intelligently and striking up an instant rapport with captain and centre-back partner Matthew Upson.

With Denmark international Lars Jacobsen also settling in immediately at right-back and Nigeria forward Victor Obinna producing a lively display in attack, the Hammers No3 has plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of this weekend's trip to the Potteries.

Manager Avram Grant could choose between Winston Reid and James Tomkins - both impressive for the reserves on Tuesday - as well as Danny Gabbidon and Manuel da Costa to line up alongside Upson this Saturday.

Ben Haim added: "I think we played well and created chances but we suddenly found ourselves 2-0 down and Chelsea didn't get in many good situations or create much. That is football - we need to look forward and take the points in the next game.

"I think it will take time, but in football we need to take the points very quick. We hope that we can do it next week."