Hammers confident of Ashton deal

West Ham are confident of agreeing a new long-term deal with England striker Dean Ashton at the start of next week.

The 24-year-old has two years left on his contract and is thought to be on the radar of Newcastle and Portsmouth. Manchester United were also reported to be monitoring his progress.

Hammers chief executive Scott Duxbury said: “The talks so far have been very positive. We are meeting with Dean and his representatives in the early part of next week with the aim of concluding a new long-term contract.”

Initial talks opened at the end of the season after Ashton had scored three goals in his last three appearances to take his tally for the campaign to 11.

His form led to a call-up into Fabio Capello’s squad, just short of two years since he was on the verge of his England debut only to suffer a serious ankle injury in training.

Ashton is not among West Ham’s top earners but is seen as an important part of their plans for next season.

Boss Alan Curbishley could have a potentially explosive pairing in attack if Craig Bellamy is kept fit to partner Ashton.

“I am not coming back just to hopefully be good at this level,” Bellamy said on whufc.com.

“I want the next couple of years to be the highlight of my career and to do that I have got to work so hard.”

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