Dean Ashton admits he might be 12 months away before he is producing his best form for West Ham United.

The former Crewe and Norwich striker scored his first Premiership goal for more than 18 months when he netted the third in West Ham's 3-0 win over Middlesbrough and said today: "Even though it was only from three yards out, that goal meant a lot.

"I just need to play games to improve the sharpness but there is more I can do in terms of the ankle.

"It's not something which is just going to go away, I need to work for anything up to a year before I see that the ankle is back to where it was."

And with Emile Heskey breaking a metatarsal for Wigan, Ashton added: "Hats off to Emile. I thought he was fantastic for England but in time, I want to be fighting for that place."