By Dominic Toner

Slaven Bilic has claimed that he wanted to keep James Tomkins in the transfer window.

West Ham sold the defender in the summer to Crystal Palace for £10million and the two club’s meet this Saturday in the Premier League.

The Hammers have endured a difficult start this season, with the club currently in the relegation places, and many fans have been frustrated with the defensive frailties.

Tomkins, 27, has made a positive start at Palace and scored in their 4-1 win against Stoke earlier in the season.

West Ham boss Bilic has revealed that he wanted Tomkins to stay at the club, but couldn’t guarantee him regular football.

“I tried to explain situation with James Tomkins,” Bilic said, as quoted by the club’s official Twitter account. “I didn’t want him to leave but I couldn’t guarantee he would play every week.

“That is the reason he wanted to leave. He wanted to be guaranteed first-team football,” he said.

Since Tomkins’ departure, West Ham have struggled defensively and currently have the worse record in the Premier League, conceding 17 goals in just seven games.

Tomkins spent eight years with West Ham after graduating from the youth set up and was allowed to leave in the summer.

He made 245 appearances for the Hammers, scoring 12 goals as he proved an attacking threat from set-pieces.

Bilic has alternated between Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins at centre-back this season, but is yet to settle on his favoured parternship.

West Ham will be desperate for a result on Saturday evening and hope to overcome eighth-placed Palace.

In other West Ham transfer news, Euro giants have lined up a January bid for the club’s international.