David Moyes insists West Ham are “dealing” with Kurt Zouma, despite starting the Frenchman hours after footage emerged showing him kicking his cat.
In a video obtained by the Sun, Zouma is seen kicking and slapping his pet, something for which he has now unreservedly apologised.
It is understood the Hammers are carrying out an internal investigation into the incident, which they strongly condemned in a statement on Monday evening.
Zouma had also picked up a knock during the dramatic FA Cup win over Kidderminster Harriers, but is straight back into the XI to take on the Hornets.
Moyes was understandably asked about the decision to start the defender in light of the disturbing scenes and whether the video had any impact on whether he played or not.
He told BT Sport: “No, because he is one of our better players.
“But it is certainly ongoing and the club are dealing with it, so that is a separate matter.”
The video has drawn widespread condemnation, with the RSPCA releasing a statement after which read: “This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise.
“We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.”
West Ham are still battling on three fronts, with a win over Watford required in order to keep up their challenge for a top four finish.
Zouma himself apologised for the incident, telling the Sun: “I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret,” he said.
“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”