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Bilic plays down rift with Amalfitano

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic claims talk of a bust-up between himself and Morgan Amalfitano have been exaggerated, although the Frenchman has been left out of the squad for Saturday.

Reports in the British media this week suggested that the pair had fallen out and that Amalfitano had been told to stay away from the first team and train with the Under-21s at a separate facility.

Amalfitano was not in the matchday squad for the opening 2-0 Premier League win at Arsenal on Sunday, and will play no part in this weekend's home clash against Leicester City.

"My job is to protect to the team, to keep the side as a unit in the best possible way," Bilic said.

"Morgan is not part of the first team squad for this week. But the whole situation was not as bad as was written in the papers."

It has been a difficult week off the field for West Ham, after it emerged striker Diafra Sakho was arrested and bailed over an alleged domestic assault last Thursday.

"Diafra is training with us, he played against Arsenal, he played well," Bilic said. "He looks happy and he trained normally this week."

The club attracted positive headlines after the win at Arsenal, in which 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford was impressive in becoming the youngest player to feature for West Ham in the Premier League.

"In Russia you have to field four homegrown players, in Turkey six, so emphasis on young players and academies is high," Bilic added.

"For me, it is very important to use as many homegrown or young players as possible, without detracting from team performances.

"West Ham is always well known for producing young players, perhaps the best academy over the last 15, 20 years if you consider the calibre of some of the players that have come through here."