Slaven Bilic prepares for Huddersfield’s visit with a long weekend at home

West Ham United's Croatian manager Slaven Bilic shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West...

Slaven Bilic has warned Diafra Sakho that he will be harming his own prospects if the unsettled West Ham United forward does not put his failed transfer to Rennes behind him.

Sakho was forced to return to the east London club on the final day of the transfer window after travelling to Rennes for a medical without West Ham’s permission. The French club had offered £9m for the 27-year-old but West Ham were unimpressed with Sakho’s behaviour and decided to pull out of the deal.

Bilic has since held talks with the Senegal international, who is in the squad for the home match against Huddersfield Town on Monday night, and demanded that he switch his focus to helping his team climb off the bottom of the Premier League table.

“Diafra wanted to go,” Bilic said. “That issue is not quite black and white. Did he have permission, permission on paper or just a form or an SMS? I don’t know. The fact is he wanted to go there.

“He did a medical but the club decided not to sell him and he’s back, and I told him: ‘Diafra, you are fit, I know what you can do. Sit there, hopefully now you are going to get fit and I am going to help you get focused here.’

“Hopefully he is going to stay like that for a long time. Because he will know that until January he is a West Ham player. That’s the way he’s going to get a new contract or play again for Senegal or get a move, if he plays good.”

West Ham signed Sakho from Metz for £3.5m three years ago. He impressed in his first campaign in England, scoring 12 goals, but injury problems restricted him to four appearances last season. He has also endured problems away from the pitch and his relationship with Bilic has been rocky at times.

This is not the first time that Sakho has come close to leaving West Ham; the forward would have joined West Bromwich Albion last summer were it not for a failed medical.

Javier Hernández is West Ham’s first choice up front after his £16m move from Bayer Leverkusen but Andy Carroll’s unreliable fitness meant they were reluctant to leave themselves short by selling Sakho. “He’s been training,” Bilic added. “He came back, he flew to Rennes last week, a couple of days before the end of transfer window, but he’s been training since. He looked good.”

West Ham prepared for the visit of Huddersfield by spending the weekend training at the London Stadium, where they struggled last season. It is likely to be a tense night for Bilic, who is under severe pressure after starting the season with three consecutive away defeats. The manager is out of contract at the end of the season and has seen his job linked with Newcastle United’s Rafael Benítez.

Bilic cut a frustrated figure at his pre‑match press conference as the manager discussed the failure to sign Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho and hit back at claims by David Sullivan, West Ham’s co-owner, that he turned down deals for Renato Sanches and Gregorz Krychowiak.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jacob Steinberg, for The Guardian on Monday 11th September 2017 00.01 Europe/London

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