Stoke joke!

STOKE City chairman Peter Coates has insisted that his club are a million miles away from signing West Ham United striker Dean Ashton. Speculation that Stoke are in talks with the Hammers over the acquisition of the player, who is out with a long-term

STOKE City chairman Peter Coates has insisted that his club are "a million miles away" from signing West Ham United striker Dean Ashton.

Speculation that Stoke are in talks with the Hammers over the acquisition of the player, who is out with a long-term ankle injury, has been rife in recent days, but Coates poured cold water on the conjecture.

"It's absolute nonsense. I have not said we are in talks with West Ham. We are a million miles from doing anything with Dean Ashton and probably won't," he said.

Coates even suggested that he was misquoted in a television interview in which he appeared to reveal Stoke's interest in Ashton, with the Potters chairman claiming he had been "misunderstood".