Slaven Bilic has admitted that he was desperate not to let James Tomkins leave West Ham over the summer, despite the centre-back jumping at the chance to join Crystal Palace.
Having grown up as part of West Ham’s academy set-up, most of the Irons’ hardcore fan base had hoped that Tomkins would emulate club captain Mark Noble in stating a desire to stay with them for the rest of his playing days, but when the opportunity to play week in week out arose at Selhurst Park, it seems as though there was nothing Bilic could do to dissuade the fan favourite from seeking a move away from East London.
Whilst his first few weeks at Palace were hampered slightly by an injury he picked up during a pre-season tour of North America, James now appears to have begun cementing his place at heart of Alan Pardew’s back four; with a number of composed defensive performances being complimented by his first goal in red and blue at home to Stoke City a few weeks ago.
Almost every regular watcher of the Eagles is sold on the idea of a starting central defensive partnership of Scott Dann and Tomkins, with Delaney providing cover from the bench but of late, thanks to a hamstring strain picked up by the skipper in our recent League Cup defeat to Southampton, it’s a pairing we’ve barely seen.
With Saturday evening pitting Palace and West Ham against one another for the first time since Tomkins switch, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how he performs, particularly when you consider that Andy Carroll is expected to be available for selection after a spell on the sidelines.
A victory would see Pardew and Palace extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six games whilst piling more pressure onto the shoulders of the already beleaguered Slaven Bilic.
Regardless of the history he shares with his boyhood club, you can be sure that James Tomkins will be keeping his mind fully on the job at hand by the time things get underway this weekend.
It should be lively to say the least.