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End of the road

Former England striker and West Ham front man Dean Ashton has been forced to retire at the age of 26 after his failure to get over an ankle injury that first sidelined him in 2006. The injury followed a training ground tackle from Shawn Wright-Phillips that took place while the pair were on England duty.

Ashton has come back since then, even playing for England in 2008, but he has been told since the injury recurred, by Niek van Djik, the surgeon who performed the original operation, that if he carried on playing football who could lose the ability to walk. Ashton has been said to be considering legal action against Wright-Phillips and Chelsea, for who the winger was playing when the injury occurred.

‘This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean,’ said Scott Duxbury, West Ham’s chief executive. ‘I would like to place on record our thanks to him for all his efforts and wish him the very best. I would also like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time.’

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