Dean Ashton is determined to repay the faith of his West Ham United manager, team-mates and supporters by returning stronger than ever in pre-season.

The 25-year-old striker has been out of action since suffering an ankle injury in training last September.

However, following surgery and an intensive rehabilitation programme, the England striker is aiming to be ready to return to the training pitch when the Hammers report back from their summer break in early July.

In an exclusive interview to be published in Sunday's official matchday programme, Ashton revealed how he is desperate to make up for lost time. "Of course no one blames you for getting injured, but I haven't played as much football as I perhaps should have done in the three-and-a-half years since I came here," he admitted.

"The club paid a lot of money for me and wanted me here and I want to give them and the supporters something back.

"You do feel guilty even though as people say, being injured is not something you ask for, but I am determined to come back for them better than before and do a job that they brought me here for and much more."

To read from Ashton, as well as an exclusive message from CEO Scott Duxbury and interviews with former Hammer of the Year Trevor Morley, Carlton Cole and West Ham-supporting darts referee Russ Bray, pick up a copy of Sunday's official matchday programme. Click HERhere to order your copy.