Ashton setback but no Bent move

January 29, 2007

West Ham striker Dean Ashton has suffered a fresh setback in his return from injury but manager Alan Curbishley has ruled out a move for Charlton's Darren Bent to bolster his attack.

Ashton needed an injection solve a complication in his recovery from a broken ankle and is still waiting for the green light to rejoin the first-team squad, with Curbishley expecting the 23-year-old to need five more weeks to make the first team after he starts full training.

The former Norwich and Crewe player went to see Alan Watson, a specialist at the BiMAL Medical and Sports Rehabilitation Clinic in Chiswick, to assess his latest setback.

'He discovered an area of scar tissue that was impinging on the front of Dean's ankle, causing him discomfort when running at a certain pace,' said head physiotherapist Steve Allen on official website www.whufc.com.

'This has subsequently been injected under an ultra-sound scan and Dean is now to rest for four days before being re-assessed at BiMAL, when he hopes he will be given the all-clear to resume his fitness work and push on to full training.'

Ashton's last game for West Ham was the FA Cup final when he scored in the dramatic defeat to Liverpool, but his absence has played its part in a crisis at Upton Park since their appearance in Cardiff.

They are currently in the bottom three in the Barclays Premiership and have won only once in the league since Curbishley took the reins.

Before his dismissal, predecessor Alan Pardew had earmarked Ashton for a return in January but Curbishley then put the date back to at least February as Ashton effectively needed another pre-season.

Ashton's return to first-team action now looks likely to be delayed until March unless he is rushed back following his latest setback.

Despite struggling for goals since Ashton's injury at the start of the season, Curbishley has distanced himself from a move for Bent from Charlton - the club where the West Ham boss spent 15 years in charge before leaving at the end of last season.

'We have not made any bid for Darren Bent,' said the Hammers manager. 'It was made quite clear to us by Charlton Athletic that the player was not for sale, and so that is the end of the matter.'