Duo set to miss Stoke clash for Jewish holy day

Duo set to miss Stoke clash for Jewish holy day

Avram Grant and Tal Ben Haim were today set to be given permission to miss West Ham’s Barclays Premier League game at Stoke so they can observe Yom Kippur.

Manager Grant and on-loan Portsmouth defender Ben Haim are expected to be absent at the Britannia Stadium for Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table clash while they celebrate the Jewish holy day.

The Israeli pair are required to participate in 25 hours of fasting and prayer over the course of Friday and Saturday, during which time Grant’s assistant Zeljko Petrovic is likely to take charge of team affairs.

Grant observed Yom Kippur prior to his first match as Chelsea manager three years ago before flying by helicopter to Old Trafford for the game against Manchester United.

Ben Haim made his league debut for the Hammers in last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat by former club Chelsea, which left Grant’s men still searching for their first point of the season.

The defender could be replaced in the squad on Saturday by fellow new boy Winston Reid, who made his comeback from a torn buttock muscle in this afternoon’s reserve team victory at Everton.

Meanwhile, it is understood striker Benni McCarthy was recently fined for failing to meet certain deadlines in his weight-loss regime.

South Africa international McCarthy was reportedly docked the equivalent of two weeks’ wages, or £80,000.

However, he is now thought to have reached the target set by the Hammers’ medical staff.

McCarthy, who has previously admitted his weight balloons when he does not train with intensity, joined West Ham from Blackburn in January but has yet to score for his new club.

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