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Do West Ham Need Dean Ashton To Succeed This Season?

Effra is very, very sorry.

So once again, I write about Dean Ashton and Deano promptly gets injured. I am sorely tempted to write him a letter and solemnly swear that I will never again mention his footballing ability on this site. To make matters worse, he has for company on the West Ham treatment table about half the first-team squad. If we had to play tomorrow, Carlton Cole would be our only fit striker, and he is so desperately low on confidence and so easily turned on by the Upton Park fans that turning out in claret and blue must seem as much fun as the prison sentence that might yet be waiting Anton Ferdinand.

Of our summer buys, only Lundberg and Solano would be available, and Freddy still seems some distance off the pace and Nobby hasn’t even made the bench yet. With these injuries piling up and three successive defeats, the season is threatening to take a decidedly ominous turn. Of course some of this is just bad luck – the linesmen could have kept his flag down as he should have done against Arsenal and Faubert’s pre-season injury was sheer misfortune– but we also have this pile of injuries because of the players Curbishley has bought since arriving at the club. Having gone for a strategy of buying experienced Premiership players who failed to cut it at bigger clubs in part because of their inability to stay fit for long periods of time, it is hardly surprising if we now have a first-choice team dominated by players with dubious fitness records.

The only surprise is that this season anyway Matthew Upson has not had a problem. Of course, Curbishley’s strategy deserves to be judged over the course of the season when the percentages are all played out, and not dismissed because we have all got twitchy when a tricky series of fixtures has yielded nothing, But last season’s nightmare has turned Deano’s fitness into a touchstone of our collective nerves, and they are now well and truly fraught.