It’s all over

DEAN ASHTON is set to bow to the inevitable and announce his retirement from football at the age of just 25, writes DAVE EVANS. The West Ham striker, one of the heroes of the Hammers dramatic march to the FA Cup Final in 2006, has been told that if he pl

DEAN ASHTON is set to bow to the inevitable and announce his retirement from football at the age of just 25, writes DAVE EVANS.

The West Ham striker, one of the heroes of the Hammers' dramatic march to the FA Cup Final in 2006, has been told that if he plays again it could seriously affect his ability to walk in later life.

The former Norwich City man has been given the stark news about his ankle injury by his personal physio John Green and by surgeon Niek van Dijk, who operated on the striker in February, and he now must decide whether to heed their advice, or make one last attempt to get himself fit for professional football.

Ashton cost West Ham a then club record �7.25million when Alan Pardew brought him from East Anglia in January 2006, but in close to four years since, he has made a mere 56 appearances - an average of just 14 per year.


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During that period, he hit the net 19 times, including one in the epic FA Cup Final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.

West Ham have insured the player for around the �7m mark, but it is unclear whether any of that would reach manager Gianfranco Zola in time for the January transfer window.

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Ashton will also look for compensation from the FA as his initial injury occurred on England duty, but the fact that he recovered from that first break to play during the 2007-08 season, scoring 11 goals along the way, may prove a stumbling block.

The player even recovered enough to win his one and only England cap - in Trinidad during the summer of 2008 - but after just five games in claret and blue at the beginning of the next season, he broke down again and has not been seen since.

It is yet another blow to West Ham, who plunged back into the relegation zone on Sunday following defeat by Everton.

But it is an even bigger blow to Ashton, who will not be 26 until later this month.

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