West Ham's injury-plagued Ashton retires

LONDON: West Ham and England striker Dean Ashton on Friday announced his retirement from professional football.

Ashton has suffered from a long-term ankle problem which he initially sustained when training with England in August 2006.

The 26-year-old underwent several operations but concerns for his mobility later in life prompted his decision.

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury told the club's official website: "This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean.

"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."

Ashton made his name at Crewe before joining Norwich in January 2005.

He scored 18 goals in 46 appearances for the Canaries, earning him a then club-record 7.25 million pound move to West Ham.

Ashton failed to land a place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 World Cup squad but was named in Steve McClaren's first squad, for the game against Greece at Old Trafford, only to be injured in a training ground clash.

He missed the whole 2006/07 season but returned to make 35 appearances in 2007/08. He started the 2008/09 season in goalscoring form but broke down again after just four games because of the ankle injury.