Stoke plot shock summer raid for West Ham crock Ashton
Stoke are set to launch a shock bid for England striker Dean Ashton. Tony Pulis has already pinpointed a move for free agent Michael Owen and now Ashton is another surprise name on his radar. The West Ham striker, 25, has suffered a dreadful run of injuries in the past three years and there are fears over his long-term future in the game. But Pulis believes that Ashton is worth the gamble as long as he can prove his fitness this summer. Ashton missed the entire 2006-07 season after breaking his ankle during a training session with England. And he managed just four appearances in the last campaign because of a number of setbacks. Ashton was a trainee at Stoke before being lured to Crewe as a teenager and he may welcome a change of clubs in a bid to avoid going stale. Another attraction is the presence of Stoke's new academy director Steve Holland, who worked closely with the player during his emergence at Crewe. West Ham would be reluctant to sell a player they paid £7.5million for in 2006 but a decent cash offer could tempt them to sell the crocked star. Boss Gianfranco Zola has signed Luis Jimenez on loan from Inter Milan to work alongside Carlton Cole at Upton Park.
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