Allardyce speaks up in support of Ben Haim after exclusion

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce has spoken up in defence of his star centre-back Tal Ben Haim following his suspension from the Israel national squad.

The 24-year-old was sent home from Slovenia last week by Israel coach Dror Kashtan after allegedly refusing to take part in a training session. For the full statement from Big Sam, read over.

"When I heard that Tal Ben Haim had been suspended from the Israeli national team for allegedly refusing to train I could hardly believe my ears. Ben Haim arrives at training before anyone else. He trains professionally and often does more than he needs to do. He treats every training session as if he is playing in a Premier League game. After normal training he goes four times a week to the gym. I even threatened that I would fine him because he was over-doing it. He is a true professional and a senior player at Bolton and has told me how much he enjoys training with the fitness coaches. He knows the way we do things in England and because of that it didn't make any sense that he wouldn't want to train.

"The name of one of our players has been blackened and because he has been so hurt in such an unfair way and has not spoken or reacted publicly I decided to support him openly and relate the facts that I have confirmed.

"Ben Haim went to the Ukraine in August last year to represent his country. His flight was the night immediately after a home Premier League match. We at the club were not happy about it but Yisrael Stuchinsky, the technical manager of the Israel Football Association insisted that it was the only route he could arrange. Tal didn't want to let the national team down even though our staff had advised him against flying that night. He has always told us how proud he is of his country and of his pride in representing Israel on the football field. So we realised we were fighting a losing battle trying to persuade him to cut short his time with the national team.

"We felt that he was not giving himself long enough to recover after the game. Nevertheless, he made the long flight to the Ukraine with no proper food provided for him. He played an international match there for Israel and was injured during it. We are convinced that it was as a result of overworking his body. It was diagnosed as a hernia and he needed a painkilling injection before each of the following few matches. He was unable to train for three to four months other than the day before each match.

"Before an international match for Israel against Switzerland he needed two injections but played the full 90 minutes. After that he required surgery to repair the hernia. In the whole time before that, even when he was in pain, Ben Haim didn't miss a single game for Bolton because of his sheer professionalism and commitment to Bolton and his national side. On Saturday August 5th Bolton flew to Spain for a training camp and Ben Haim played for 90 minutes on the Tuesday and Thursday against both Huelva and Seville.

"This is what I understand then happened and this has been confirmed by our other Israeli player Idan Tal who was due with Tal Ben Haim to join up with the Israeli national side in Ljubljana. On the Friday, the day after the Seville match, Stuchinsky, arranged for Ben Haim and Idan Tal to take three flights from Spain to reach Ljubljana.

"We insisted that it needed only two flights and after many telephone calls Stuchinsky changed it to two - via Brussels. Because of what happened to Ben Haim in the Ukraine he knew he had to be very careful to recover after two full matches. Our doctor checked his physical condition before he left Spain because of the hernia injury he suffered in the Ukraine following over-training. We did not want either player to make three flights. Even with two they still needed 13 hours travelling without any proper food or rest. Tal and Ben Haim arrived at their hotel at midnight and didn't get to bed until 2am. At 8am the players received a wake-up call for breakfast. The fitness coach asked Ben Haim what he had been doing over the previous few days and he explained about the two matches he had played and the fact that he had travelled for 13 hours the previous day. Ben Haim told him he needed time to recover and that he did not feel he should train that day, knowing that the team were not due to play until three days later. Ben Haim assured him he would be ready for a full training session the following day. Apparently, when Ben Haim turned up for training on the Sunday, fully fit and rested, they refused to allow him to join the other players so he trained by himself on another pitch. Stuchinsky told him he was suspended and that a flight had been arranged for him back to the UK that evening.

"Because some people have tarnished Ben Haim's reputation in public we decided to check all the facts with Idan Tal who was with him. Idan confirmed that he was in the bedroom when the Israeli team doctor checked Ben Haim and told him that he had overworked and that if he trained that day he might injure himself. Idan said also that Ben Haim went with the doctor to see the national coach Dror Kashtan and the doctor had recommended that he should rest that day but would be fit to train the following day.

"For some reason the doctor changed his version of events completely when he was quoted in the media. He was quoted as saying that Ben Haim was fit for training. Under those circumstances Bolton cannot remain silent and allow different people to mud-sling and damage Ben Haim's good name. He is one of the most professional, committed and dedicated players I have worked with. He gives his heart and soul 100% for his club and country. I cannot remain silent and let one of my players be hurt in this way.

"We showed great faith in the Israel Football Association in allowing Tal and Ben Haim a further 48 hours to prepare for this international. This is an unprecedented move by any Club and this is one of the reasons why we are disappointed that Ben Haim's name has been tarnished in this manner."

Mof Gimmers