Zola awaits return of 'perfect' spearhead Ashton

Dean Ashton has been hailed as the 'perfect' fit for Gianfranco Zola's improving West Ham side when he returns to fitness next season

Dean Ashton has been hailed as the "perfect" fit for Gianfranco Zola's improving West Ham side when he returns to fitness next season.

England international Ashton has been ruled out for the rest of the current campaign as he recovers from a second operation on his ankle, which he injured during Zola's first training session as Hammers boss in September.

In the striker's absence, Carlton Cole has emerged as the club's No1 target man, casting doubt on Ashton's future role within the team.

Yet Zola has handed the crocked hitman a boost by outlining his desire to have Ashton back in the starting line-up at Upton Park.


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"For me it is unfortunate because I have not had him in my side before. It's a big blow because I know how important he can be for us," Zola said.

"I'm sorry especially for him - being out so long is not easy. He is a player whose qualities would be perfect for this team.

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"I'm sure he would like to be involved but when he comes back he will make up for it."

The Italian also hopes to have injury victim Kieron Dyer available next month.

Dyer has had an operation on a calf problem, but could return to action in March.

"Kieron's operation went very well. He should be available soon," Zola said.

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