Ashton - I was injured

Dean Ashton's FA Cup season could have been ended by West Ham at Carrow Road in January - but thanks to a twist of fate and a timely injury he now has his sights set on firing the Hammers into the final.

Dean Ashton's FA Cup season could have been ended by West Ham at Carrow Road in January - but thanks to a twist of fate and a timely injury he now has his sights set on firing the Hammers into the final.

Ashton, 22, officially missed Norwich's third round tie against West Ham with a minor groin problem which was detected just 24 hours before kick-off.

West Ham went on to win the game 2-1 and a fortnight later Ashton, who had avoided becoming cup-tied, completed a £7.25million move to Upton Park.

It is understood West Ham were not prepared to break their transfer record if he was unavailable for FA Cup duty.


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Publicly, Norwich and Ashton maintain the injury was genuine and the timing coincidental.

But Ashton could not hide his relief at being available for Sunday's clash with Middlesbrough, as West Ham hunt their first FA Cup final appearance in 26 years.

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"I always want to play but of course everyone came up to me and told me I wasn't fit and fair play to them because I would have thought the same," said Ashton.

"Everyone bar myself thought I wasn't injured - but I was injured for definite.

"It is strange to think that perhaps the injury was a good thing.

"It is not fair on Norwich to say that, but obviously in hindsight it was fantastic because it means I can be involved in the semi-final.'

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