Ashton to return to action next season

It has been confirmed that Dean Ashton will not return to action until the start of next season after undergoing further minor surgery on his injured ankle.

The Hammers striker had an operation on Monday night to remove an area of scar tissue emanating from the original broken ankle he suffered while training with the full England squad back in August last year.

After a long and strenuous rehabilitation programme, the 23-year-old has recently suffered a succession of frustrating set-backs in his attempt to reach full fitness and, after the Club's medical staff sought the advice of independent specialists, the decision was taken to solve the problem with an operation.

The recovery time is expected to be six weeks before Dean can run again, meaning that he will not be fit for a return to competitive football this season, but will be completely ready to resume full pre-season training with his team-mates in the summer.

Head Physiotherapist Steve Allen says: "Dean underwent a successful diagnostic arthroscopy operation on his left ankle to remove a significant amount of scar tissue - a problem directly linked to the original injury he sustained.

"We have left no stone unturned in our attempt to get Dean back out on the football field as soon as possible, but it was clear that he had gone as far as he could with the methods that had been used, and the only option was to have another look at the injury site.

"We sought the opinions of the leading ankle specialists in the country and, following their advice, the decision was made to operate.

"It will be six weeks before he is back running, and we felt that the timing was right, in order for Dean to make a fresh start with the rest of his team-mates when the squad returns for pre-season training in the summer. We look forward to seeing him back to full fitness then."