Zola Rules Out Ashton Quit Rumours
Former Alex striker Dean Ashton is having a pretty torrid time at the moment but despite what the tabloids say there doesn't seem to be an imminent chance of Deano retiring.
It was meant to be the big break in his career when Steve McClaren gave him his first call up to the England squad in summer 2006. Fresh from an FA Cup final he was set to shine on the biggest stage until a clash with Shaun Wright-Phillips on the training ground led to a broken ankle 24 hours before his England debut.
Ashton spent the entire 2006-2007 out on the sidelines before making his return in 07-08 with 35 appearances for West Ham and finally making his England debut on 1st June 2008 against Trinidad and Tobago. However the problematic ankle wasn't to go away and by September 2008 he was ruled out for another season.
Having now spent 12 months without kicking a ball rumours of his imminent retirement at the age of just 25 have been gathering pace. With no return looking likely before Christmas Ashton has barely been around Gianfranco Zola's West Ham team, instead taking sessions with personal coach John Green.
Zola though says that any suggestion of Ashton's retirement is not true and he's just looking forward to having him back in his side. Speaking to the BBC Zola said:
'The problem he had was quite serious, it was more serious than anybody thought. It has been one year and obviously I am getting concerned about it.
'I can't say 'I'll give you three months', I can't force his progress along. But I do respect his willingness to come back and I am going to be supportive to him, not the one who is pushing him.'
I am very sorry for the boy and I imagine what he is going through and that he is suffering a lot.
'All my thoughts are with him. I wish that he will find his way forward as soon as possible.'
Ashton is arguably the most gifted player to have progressed through the Alex academy, making 131 league starts and scoring 61 league goals in his 5 years as a professional at Gresty Road.