Ashton was a bustling striker who had everything. He was big and muscular, a fine header of the ball but possessed a great touch and lethal accuracy. Next summer, England will bring Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch to the World Cup to play the lone role up front.
If a chronic ankle injury had not forced the striker to retire prematurely then Capello, who was an admirer of Ashton, surely would have opted to deploy him alongside Rooney.
“It is a shame for him and it is a shame for England.”
These were the words of Dario Gradi, Crewe Alexandra caretaker manager, as he lamented the early retirement of the West Ham United striker. The Crewe legend added that Ashton was the best finisher he had ever had.
The 26-year-old has struggled for over two years with a niggling ankle injury that he originally picked up while training for England in August 2006.
Shaun Wright-Phillips committed the tackle which triggered the beginning of the end. Sources suggested last night that Ashton is looking into the possibility of suing Chelsea for vicarious liability. Any claim would obviously be fought by the London club.
Ashton did make a return during the 2007-08 Premier League campaign. He made 35 appearances, scoring on 11 occasions. Unfortunately, the injury resurfaced at the beginning of the of the 2008 season.
Gianfranco Zola has been without the striker for more than a year. Even though Ashton is fit, the injury is chronic with the resulting consequence that he is unable to make sharp movements.
Pursuing a path in football as a player would be impossible.Ã‚Â He was warned by doctors that if he should pursue his career further, he may not be able to walk properly for the rest of his life.
West Ham will issue Ashton a pay off, understood to be round Ã‚Â£3 million. The club seem certain to pursue legal action against the Football Association for the fee they originally paid for the striker and the value of his insurance.
On the club’s official website, West Ham’s chief executive, Scott Duxbury, issued this statement: “This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean. I would like to place on record our thanks to him for all his efforts and wish him the very best. I would also like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time.”
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