Ashton thirsty for England role

Dean Ashton has been speaking to the media as he prepares for the prospect of his first England cap in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday night.

The West Ham United striker is in the frame for his senior bow in the Port of Spain game, which kicks off at 10.30pm UK time, after having to sit out on Wednesday when Fabio Capello's men were 2-0 winners against the United States. With Michael Owen absent with a virus and Wayne Rooney rested, there is every prospect of Ashton being capped nearly two years after an ankle injury ended his original England dreams. Prior to that August 2006 setback which cost him a whole season, Ashton was flying for West Ham United - not least in the memorable run to the previous May's FA Cup final.

"It has been two difficult years," he said. " There were a few doubters who didn't think I would get back to where I was - so I'm pleased to be here. No one thought I would be able to return to the level of performance - yet I always knew I had the ability. I missed out on a whole season and I have a point to prove. I will be working as hard as anyone to get in. That FA Cup final against Liverpool seems a long time ago now."

West Ham United have reaped the benefits of Ashton's return to form, with the striker scoring five goals in his last eight matches at the end of the 2007/08 campaign to repay those supporters who continued to chant his name throughout the campaign. "I have shown with my goals in a limited season that I am back to the player I was, perhaps even better, and I certainly feel stronger mentally. Nothing will stop me searching for my goal - that is to get in this England team and take the chance when it comes."

While competition for places is fierce - he is battling with Peter Crouch, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Theo Walcott and midweek starter Jermain Defoe - Ashton knows he has every chance of being a regular for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. "If I play well for my club, I know I can show I am good enough. The squad has been broadened out and it gives me great heart. Just to be here means [Capello] thinks highly of us all. He must see I am doing well. Wayne Rooney is an unbelievable player and I know I can get in the team as well. I have belief and was pleased with my ten Premier League goals when I got my form back during the season. I will always score goals."