Brown: Ashton's better than Crouch
DAVID CUFFLEY Dean Ashton has a brighter England future ahead of him than FA Cup final rival Peter Crouch - but the Liverpool star will have the last laugh when the two former Norwich City strikers face each other at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Dean Ashton has a brighter England future ahead of him than FA Cup final rival Peter Crouch - but the Liverpool star will have the last laugh when the two former Norwich City strikers face each other at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
That's the view of West Ham FA Cup winner and former Canary boss Ken Brown as the countdown to the Cardiff showpiece begins.
Ashton, who joined the Hammers for £7.25m in a transfer window move from Carrow Road in January, is rated 60-40 to recover from a hamstring injury in time to face the Reds.
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But even wearing his claret and blue hat, Brown reckons Crouch's Liverpool must be favourites to lift the trophy for the seventh time.
He said: “It's tremendous for West Ham to have qualified for Europe and it would be amazing if they could win the FA Cup and follow it up with success in Europe next season, as we did when we won the FA Cup in 1964 and European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965, when I played in both finals.
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“I couldn't for the life of me see them doing so well this season, but Alan Pardew has made some great signings and they've pulled together very, very well.
“It will be one hell of a job for West Ham on Saturday, but you just don't know - you just can't predict football. When we won it in 1964, we beat Manchester United in the semi-finals when we weren't given a chance.
“It's a tremendous achievement to get there and it would be even more of an achievement to win it but they have to face Liverpool and I do fancy Liverpool.”
Brown admitted: “I don't see West Ham live too often because I go to Norwich regularly, but I saw the third round game when they won at Norwich and I was at Upton Park for the Premiership game against Liverpool a fortnight ago.
“The ex-players lined up on the pitch and we had a minute's applause in memory of John Lyall, which was a brilliant tribute.
“Liverpool won 2-1 on the night, though it wasn't the greatest of games and neither team had their strongest side out. Steven Gerrard wasn't playing for Liverpool and he's the world's best, in my opinion - worth about six players on his own.”
But Brown has seen plenty of Ashton, both at Norwich and since his move, and reckons he would have been a better World Cup selection than Crouch.
He said: “Crouch in his own way does his job well, but I like Ashton. He's a better all-round player and finisher than Crouch and I think he's unlucky not to have been considered for the World Cup squad.
“I'm a bit surprised he didn't get in. He's done his bit in the England Under-21s and made a great start at West Ham.
“He looks well worth the money, only time will tell. The only thing that disturbs me a little is the way he always wears that extra support under his shorts and I wonder if there is some sort of injury there. He does an enormous amount of stretching before a game and he has a hamstring problem again and I wonder if there's a connection.”
Brown, however, will miss Saturday's game as the Hammers bid to win the FA Cup for the fourth time, and he will have to keep track of the result en route to the Adriatic.
“I won't be able to go to the game. I couldn't get any tickets and we'd already booked a holiday in Croatia,” he said.