Dean Ashton is managing to keep a close eye on how his West Ham United team-mates are doing, while looking forward to stepping up his rehab work over the next few weeks.

The 25-year-old striker, currently sidelined with an ankle injury, has been able to start jogging on a treadmill and is hoping to extend this to outside running in early April. The England international has been working hard every day, with double sessions part of his regular schedule.

"It's a light at the end of the tunnel point for me," Ashton said. "If you think about it, running forms a large part of training and playing for a footballer and to get to this stage again now is a real step up for me."

The forward is keen to make sure his rehab work is taken at a steady pace to ensure his recovery work is not rushed. He said: "The ultimate aim is to get back running and feel completely comfortable doing this, so I do everything one step at a time. It is good to have this as part of my programme now, though, and I will continue to work hard to take it further.

"I want to come back when everything is right, not return prematurely and end up getting another injury, because all the hard work will be for nothing. If it means continuing to be patient and let things take as long as they need to, then that's what I will do."

The medical staff at West Ham are also making sure Ashton is making the right progress at the right time, while giving him as much encouragement as possible.

"The manager and the staff here have all been keeping an eye on me and watching my progress closely. There is no easy way back from an injury that keeps you out for a long while, but as long as I know I am working my hardest and keep taking steps forward, then I know it is all heading the right way."

As well as his rehab work, Ashton is keeping tabs on his team-mates and is delighted to see the likes of Carlton Cole, Robert Green and Matthew Upson being picked at international level.

"I think we are doing very well. Considering we have had a few injuries of late, the lads who have come in have added to the team's good form and it's great to see the boys getting the results.

"I am also pleased to see the boys playing for England. Matty, Greeny and Coley all have been playing really well and deserve to be in the squad. Coley has been on top form and has done well and I am sure, when he gets it, he will take his chance again."