Ashton eager to face Blackburn

Dean Ashton was delighted to be back in the starting lineup for West Ham United at Tottenham Hotspur and will hope to get another chance to impress from the off against Blackburn Rovers this weekend.

After three substitute appearances, Ashton joined fit-again Bobby Zamora in a two-pronged attack and, particularly in the opening minutes at White Hart Lane, looked sharp. However, the dismissal of Luis Boa Morte just before half-time forced a rethink with Zamora moving out to the left wing and leaving Ashton up front on his own. "[The partnership] didn't last very long because Bobby had to go out on the left wing ... I wanted to make an impression but sadly I couldn't."

The 24-year-old No9 had always seemed the most likely to score though and got a good reception from the travelling support when he finally made way for Carlton Cole on 77 minutes. "I am pleased to have started but obviously disappointed not to have got a good result. It is always going to help to start so you can get yourself into the game. It is very difficult coming on as a sub because the game is already into a flow and things may have happened before that."

Ashton has played in 22 league games this season - having missed all of the previous campaign with an ankle injury and suffered six weeks out last autumn with a knee problem. Half of those appearances have come off the bench but he is still the club's leading top-flight scorer with five goals. One of those was the winner at Blackburn Rovers on 9 December and Ashton would dearly love a repeat when Mark Hughes' side make the return trip this Saturday, claiming: "We have to get back on track against Blackburn.

He added: "It is three bad results and if we carry on like that we are going to have a poor end to the season. We don't want that. We want to make sure we are at least in the top half of the table and really push on to the end of the season. Hopefully it is just a bad week against some good teams and we can get back to what we do best on Saturday."

A positive result would move the club to within three points of their visitors and also go some way to dimming the memory of the Tottenham loss that ended a tough week. "We know that is not good enough, especially because it was a local derby. We have got to be doing better than that. The two early goals killed the game. They can pass the ball very well and after the sending off as well it was nigh on impossible. I thought we kept going in the second half but it is very tough going when you are down to ten men."

Ashton also had a word for the supporters, who also kept going until the end despite the events unfolding in front of them. "They are always brilliant - especially away from home," he said. "They always get behind us - but they are right to vent their frustrations because that is three 4-0s in a row. We know it is not good enough and they are more than entitled to have their say. I am just disappointed we couldn't give them something to shout about."