West Ham United sold James Tomkins to Crystal Palace in the summer.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic has suggested the sale of James Tomkins to Crystal Palace was forced by the player after he seeked regular first-team action, the Mirror report.

Tomkins joined Palace in the summer after struggling to nail down a regular first-team spot at West Ham.

The decision disappointed a number of supporters at the time, and now more are questioning the deal amid West Ham’s shocking start to the season especially from a defensive perspective.

The Hammers have shipped an alarming 16 goals already this season as they currently sit in the relegation zone, prompting further questions over the decision to sell defender Tomkins.

Bilic, however, has reaffirmed that the player forced his exit and that he never wanted the defender to go.

“It was never me or the club that wanted to sell him. James wanted to play week in, week out. I rated him a lot as a guy and as a player,” Bilic told the Mirror.

“I used him a lot last year and he played many games for us. But when he wasn’t the first choice, he found it very hard in a nice and sporting way. Not in a bad way. That is the reason. I hate to sell.”

Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins celebrates scoring their first goal

Tomkins, 27, made 23 Premier League starts for West Ham last season though a number of those appearances came at right-back whereas the player evidently prefers playing in the middle.

Now at Palace, he has made four league appearances for the Eagles with his latest coming in the 1-1 draw with Everton at Goodison Park – a result which leaves them momentarily in seventh spot.

West Ham host Middlesbrough this weekend and are in desperate need for a result, while questions have been asked over new signings Gokhan Tore, Arthur Masuaku and Simone Zaza.

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