Ashton plans to help West Ham fans forget Tevez

Dean Ashton hopes he can help West Ham fans forget about Carlos Tevez this season.

"Everyone wants a fresh start," Ashton told the Daily Mail. "It would be very sad if the fans just carried on singing about Tevez and weren't singing about the players in the team. We want to put that behind us."

Ashton has been out for a year after breaking an ankle in an England training session ahead of what should have been his international debut.

The striker scored in West Ham's victory over Roma and added: "It's a massive step for me,' he said after the game. 'Back in the dark old days I was struggling through, not able to walk, and to go out and play in front of everybody and play well, even for 45 minutes, is really pleasing.

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"I had faith in my ability but when I first came back and was training, I wasn't the best. It was a case of getting that confidence back.

"I've seen a different side to football and I'll never, ever take it for granted again. I appreciate what I've got. I'd play for nothing if it meant getting out there again. That doesn't matter to me - I just want to play football for years."

Ashton has honed a more muscular frame after months of gym work to maintain his fitness levels, but his smooth link-up play suggested he had lost none of the subtleties that impressed England coach Steve McClaren.

He said: "I've put on a bit of muscle during my recovery but I've lost a lot of fat.

"It's not about how heavy I am or how big I look, it's about how I transfer it on to the pitch in terms of speed and endurance.

"I feel like I'm a stronger runner. I'm strong upper bodywise. My legs feel great. I don't feel particularly sore, so that's a credit to the work I've done.

"It's coming up to a year since the injury but it doesn't scare me, it's gone. I've forgotten about it. I feel fine now. I don't cringe when I'm tackled. That doesn't bother me. It's just that fact that I've had to limp for a year. I just want to make sure I'm right.

"I really haven't thought about England to be honest. At the moment, I've got to get back in the West Ham team."

And the new blond hairdo?

"I'm obviously in the last chance saloon with my hair, so I thought I might as well do something for a change, for a new start," he said.

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