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David Moyes urges Kurt Zouma to focus on his football ahead of possible return

The defender, who is at the centre of an animal cruelty investigation, withdrew from the team for last Sunday’s draw at Leicester after falling ill.

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Kurt Zouma could return to the West Ham squad after illness for Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Kurt Zouma could return to the West Ham squad after illness for Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Kurt Zouma could return to the West Ham squad after illness for Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle (Zac Goodwin/PA)

West Ham boss David Moyes has told Kurt Zouma to focus on his football as he deals with the fall-out from his ill treatment of his pet cat.

Zouma found himself at the centre of a storm when footage on social media emerged earlier this month of him kicking and slapping his cat.

His behaviour was roundly condemned and the fury only grew when the Hammers chose to play him against Watford as an investigation into his conduct was launched.

The 27-year-old France defender withdrew from the team for last Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Leicester after feeling unwell in the warm-up, but could return against Newcastle on Saturday.

Moyes said: “He’s better, but it’s taken him a couple of days to get over it – he had quite bad sickness and illness, but he’s trained the last couple of days, so I’m hoping that he’ll be available.”

Asked how the player was mentally, Moyes added: “I think he’s probably really disappointed about what he’s done and he’s thinking about it a lot, no doubt, but overall we have tried to get him to move on.

“We want him to concentrate on his training. He played very well for us against Watford the other week there, so we’re hoping that we can keep him at those levels of performance, we’ll be pleased with that.

“He’s really well-liked here amongst the supporters, the performances he’s put in throughout the season already, so hopefully he can focus on his football and we’ll give him as much support as we can until we get him right back to his best.”

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West Ham’s Tomas Soucek (right) celebrates scoring in the 4-2 win at St James’ Park in August (Owen Humphreys/PA)

West Ham’s Tomas Soucek (right) celebrates scoring in the 4-2 win at St James’ Park in August (Owen Humphreys/PA)

West Ham’s Tomas Soucek (right) celebrates scoring in the 4-2 win at St James’ Park in August (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Should Zouma line up against the Magpies, he will find himself facing a team looking for a fourth successive league victory, a run which has lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone in the wake of a £90million January spending spree.

The Hammers won 4-2 at St James’ Park on the opening weekend of the season, but Moyes is expecting a very different proposition with Eddie Howe now at the helm with a new-look squad.

Moyes said: “Eddie’s a really good, steady hand. He’s someone who has shown he can build a football club, he’s got an idea about how he wants to play, he’s got a really good reputation in the managers’ circle because of the good work he did at Bournemouth.

“He’s got a really big club now in Newcastle and a club which has got big expectations. Their results recent have been good, they’ve brought in some new signings which has helped them as well, so they’re a much tougher task than they were at the start of the season.

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“But I have to say Newcastle at any time is a tough task and we’ll need to be at our best to get a result.”

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