Tony Cottee: Losing Ashton would be a huge loss to the club

If the rumours about Dean Ashton having to retire from the game are true that it will certainly be a massive blow to everyone associated with the club,"" says Tony Cottee

If the rumours about Dean Ashton having to retire from the game are true that it will certainly be a massive blow to everyone associated with the club.

Obviously we await on clarification from the club on the matter and myself and all the supporters would like to know what is going on, but I have to admit from reading the rumours, it does not look good.

It is a blow for the fans and the club because we all know what he can do and how good a player he is. The fact that we are talking about a player that is worth about �10m only makes it worse for the club, especially considering the apparent financial trouble they are in.

All that aside the biggest blow will be to the player himself. Most pros, if they are lucky get to play until they are 34 or 35, myself included in that. So I cannot imagine what Ashton at 25 is going through and I really feel for him right now and wish him well.

He is a very good centre forward and leads the line well whenever he plays and it would have been lovely to see him partner Carlton Cole up front as the pair of them would scare defenders half to death. They both score goals and it would have been a great partnership for the club.

I know from my own experiences how frustrating it is being injured and watching the games from the sidelines.

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I admit I was lucky and as a player I only had two long spells out with injury. I damaged cartilige in my right knee twice and missed about three months each time.

That was annoying enough, so after what Dean has been through, suffering too very long term injuries, he must be literally pulling his hair out.

You want to be out there on the pitch and although you go into the dressing room, you don't feel part of the team and even when you come back and start training you are playing catch-up.

West Ham have had trouble with injuries of late and as usual with problems of this nature there are a number of factors involved.

Going back a couple of seasons we did seem to pick up injury-prone players like Matt Upson, who is thankfully now over all of that, Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy, but there is a lot of talk about the standard of the pitch at the training ground as well.

However the biggest reason has to be that word associated a lot with football and that is luck.

Kieron Dyer broke his leg in the Carling Cup against Bristol Rovers and that was not down to his own injury record, it was due to a poor challenge, and there is not much you can do about that. while Ashton himself picked up his initial ankle problem while on England duty.

One man who himself has had injury problems in the past is Danny Gabbidon and it was great to see him play for Wales.

Danny has had a frustrating time, but he is a good footballer and what's important is that he is versatile.

He can play full back and centre half, he's also an international and a very good player so it is a big boost for the player and the club that he is back.

It puts pressure on the other centre halves to do well and keep playing well, because if they don't, Danny will jump in and do a job.

It will take time to get him up to full fitness and playing his best football and it is important we don't thrust players in and it will be better to put him on the bench and ease him into the side, like Wales did.

Matt Upson was another on international duty and I think he played okay. He found himself up against probably the first choice Brazilian front line and in general at international level he does not let his country down.

There were a couple of moments in the game where he could have done better, but at the moment he is third choice centre half behind John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and should be proud to be so.

Brazil are one of the best teams in the World right now, so the experience of coming up against them will be invaluable. Also we don't get to play Brazil that often so it would have been nice to swap shirts and capture a famous jersey.

Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner