Injury-plagued West Ham United striker Dean Ashton appears no nearer a return to first-team action after it emerged he has had another operation on his troublesome ankle. The former Crewe and Norwich front-man has been out of action since September with, manager, Gianfranco Zola hopeful the forward would soon be available for selection. However, Ashton's spell on the sidelines is now set to be extended further. "It was disappointing to have another operation," he said. "But it had to be done and was only a minor thing, a small problem that had to be dealt with and I am glad it is all done now. "I was also very pleased to have the two of the best ankle specialists in the room at the same time when I had the operation done. The feedback I have had from everyone has been great, so that is very good for me." Ashton has yet to feature for the Hammers since Zola arrived at Upton Park, and has made just four Premier League appearances so far this season due to injury. He was also forced to miss the majority of the 2006/07 campaign after sustaining a broken ankle on international duty with England in August 2006. "When you are out this long they wonder what is wrong especially as I started the season OK," he said. "But as any player will tell you, this is what it can be like with any injury you pick up. The important thing is I am working hard and looking to be firing on all cylinders when I come back."
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