A good week for West Ham United following three victories at senior, reserve and youth level was further boosted with the news that Dean Ashton continues to make positive progress.
The 24-year-old, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury which he picked up in training following the away game at West Bromwich Albion in September, has stepped up his rehabilitation work. "I was able to start running on the treadmill this week," said Ashton "I have been working hard since having surgery in September, focusing on building and strengthening the ankle and muscles in my calf.
"After surgery, you lose a lot of strength in your muscles, so this is been the main part of my rehab work. But to do the running this week has seen me step up a bit more again now in what I am doing."
While being on the sidelines can take its toll, Ashton said he is drawing on his experience from a couple of years ago, when he had to recover from the broken ankle that ruled him out of the 2006/07 season. "Back then, it was all new to me and you can be in the dark about it all," he added. "But because I have been through a similar time before, I know what to expect more now.
"You know you will have days where there might not be much progress and then there will be other days when you really progress. I know now why I may have to do certain things and why I need to do them and when, so I feel good with how things are going for me."
Although much of Ashton's rehab work has to be done on a one-to-one basis at the moment, he has been keeping a close eye on his team-mates and how they have been doing. It is a positive injury situation generally, with Danny Gabbidon the only other long-term absentee.
He has been a regular at matches and was also delighted to see the team pick up a well-deserved win away at Sunderland last weekend. "I think the lads have been playing well, but were not getting the results to match them. But now we have got two clean sheets in two matches and got a great win up at Sunderland. There's no reason why we can't go on from there.
"There's some tough matches coming up, but as I said, we have been playing well and when you have players in the team such as Craig Bellamy who has a great goalscoring record, it is promising for us and there is no reason why we can't look forward to a good rest of the season."
The aim for Ashton is also to play a part in that and he remains confident of getting through the strenuous rehab work with a positive result. "There are no targets as such, I want just want to carry on with what I am doing and keep progressing every day and then playing some part in the season for West Ham. That is the aim and I am working hard to achieve that."