Curbs on Ashton lay-off and recovery

Following the news that Dean Ashton will miss the rest of the season after a further operation on his ankle, Alan Curbishley expressed his thoughts on not having the England striker at his disposal.

"When I first met the club in December, people were talking about Dean coming back in January," Curbs said. "But knowing that he'd been out for four months, when I came in, I never really put any pressure on him.

"He's had good days and bad days but he's been trying his hardest and it was something that he couldn't remedy. This week it was decided that he'd be opened up and have an arthroscope and they were pleased with what they saw.

"They took away some scar tissue that had built up after the operation. Now we're confident and we hope he's confident that it's a case of recovering from the operation and then getting on with it and pushing on and trying to get himself fit.

"It's disastrous if you look at it now that he's been out for the whole season. It's a big blow to West Ham and England, because he was at the front there, and apparently came back this pre-season the best he's ever come back. But it's to no avail and we've suffered as well."

But Curbs is hoping the summer will provide Dean with some vital recuperation time and the chance to increase his fitness.

"The plan is that he now recovers from the operation and starts running as soon as he can and carries on the through the summer, so that when we start pre-season he's in good shape and raring to go."