West Ham interested in strengthening squad with Tal Ben Haim

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For anyone having a look down the current squad list at Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv, they will note that there are two players with an identical name.

Therefore, for West Ham supporters noticing that they are being linked with Tal Ben Haim, they may be relieved to discover that Slaven Bilic is not interested in bringing back the 34-year-old defender whose one previous campaign at the club ended in relegation in 2010/11.

Instead, it is a 27-year-old striker, who has netted 10 goals in his last 11 appearances for club and country. However, he failed to score in the 2-1 Europa League success at AZ Alkmaar when Hammers scouts were said to be in attendance.

He is perhaps more famous for a chip over Gianluigi Buffon during a World Cup 2018 qualifier last month, which Italy eventually won 3-1 in Israel.

Bilic has already worked through a number of strikers this season, with Andy Carroll, Jonathan Calleri and Simone Zaza all starting as a lone frontman and failing to score a single goal between them.

Zaza has been most regularly called upon of late, but 21 penalty-box touches and nine goal attempts in five appearances is nothing special. Despite not being a striker, Dimitri Payet has already had 21 goal attempts in six matches.

What’s more, Zaza has only managed a single attempt on target so far in his 353 minutes of action.

To be fair to the Italian, he generally played as part of a two-man attack in Serie A and has found himself isolated at times since joining West Ham.

With nine goals in eight matches and a -8 goal difference so far, fans will be expecting better when Sunderland visit the London Stadium. The Black Cats are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League under David Moyes.

West Ham’s odds are 7/10 to beat Sunderland, with Zaza 6/4 to open his account at any time in the 90 minutes.

Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.