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Striker can nail down place with Three Lions

PUBLISHED: 11:45 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:30 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG ALAN Curbishley has backed Dean Ashton to become a regular in Fabio Capello s England squad following his sparkling form for the Hammers in pre-season. Ashton made it six goals in three friendly matches with a stunning hat-trick against

By JONATHAN CLEGG

ALAN Curbishley has backed Dean Ashton to become a regular in Fabio Capello's England squad following his sparkling form for the Hammers in pre-season.

Ashton made it six goals in three friendly matches with a stunning hat-trick against Ipswich Town on Monday night as West Ham prevailed 5-3 in an entertaining encounter.

It took the England striker just four minutes to open the scoring at Portman Road, smashing home Matty Etherington's cross off the underside of the crossbar, and Ashton helped himself to two more after the break in an electric solo performance.

The 24-year-old had shaken off a virus to take his place in the starting line-up but he picked up where he left off following his double strike in West Ham's high-profile friendly against the Major League Soccer All-Stars last month.

Ashton endured a slow recovery from ankle surgery last season but recovered his sharpness in the final months of the campaign, netting five times in his final eight games and finishing as the club's top scorer with 11 goals.

The former Norwich striker made his England debut against Trinidad and Tobago at the end of the season and Hammers boss Curbishley Ashton will emerge as a key player for the Three Lions in the coming months.

"I think he was in the last squad and obviously Fabio Capello knows all about Dean," Curbishley said.

"He came to Upton Park on quite a few occasions last year so I think all Dean can do - and it's that same for some of our other young English players - is go out there week-in, week-out and make sure they're noticed."

Ashton added two goals after half-time, firing home from the edge of the box after 57 minutes and sliding in to convert Kyel Reid's cross 11 minutes from time to complete his hat-trick.

But Curbishley was also impressed by the forward's link-up play with fellow striker Craig Bellamy, who found the net with an exquisite lob before departing with a hamstring injury.

Bellamy and Ashton played together just twice last season as injury deprived Curbishley of his first-choice strike partnership.

But the West Ham manager believes the duo will form an exciting forward line this year.

"I think we didn't have them at all last year, I think they played together once or twice," said Curbishley.

"Obviously we are looking forward to that and we hope it brings us quite a few goals.

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