Monday, July 23, 2007


West Ham 0 Lazio 2


West Ham United were unfortunate to slip to a 2-0 defeat against Lazio in their third pre-season friendly of the summer on Saturday evening. In a tough encounter in the small Austrian village of Lebring, near Graz, goals either side of the break earned victory for the Italians, who are slightly ahead of Hammers in their pre-season preparations. Despite facing sharp opponents, though, Alan Curbishley's men were unlucky to end up on the losing side, after Craig Bellamy missed a 68th minute penalty and Carlton Cole had two efforts superbly saved by veteran Lazio goalkeeper Ballotta.

Striker Dean Ashton came comfortably through another 45 minutes, while Bellamy played the full 90. Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora were rested after picking up slight knocks in training.
Despite the result, Alan Curbishley will have been satisfied by another strenuous work-out and will look back on their week in Austria as a valuable fitness exercise ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

West Ham United: Green; Spector (Collins 45), Davenport (Upson 45), Ferdinand (Dailly 60), McCartney (Gabbidon 45); Bowyer (Collison 65), Mullins (Boa Morte 45), Parker, Etherington (Reid 70); Ashton (Cole 45), Bellamy.


And good news on Ashton's state of fitness :-

Dean Ashton has revealed he is straining at the leash for next season to get underway and has warned Premier League defences that he will be the fittest and strongest he has ever been. Ashton missed the whole of last season after a cruel ankle break in an England training session and after such a long spell on the side-lines the powerful striker feels as if he is a "forgotten man" but has vowed to remind fans of his quality. Ashton said: "You can't describe how difficult it has been - it was horrible. Playing for England was everything you have dreamed of and the next minute it has gone. "I don't think there will be a hungrier player in the Premier League this season than me. "I've got to prove myself again and prove that I'm not a forgotten man and that I'm the same player I was. I want to show people how well I have come back form this injury. "I can definitely say that by the start of the season I will easily be the fittest I have ever been and the strongest I have ever been and I am excited by how I will feel. "I think my football won't be a problem. My brain hasn't got tired or hurt - that is going to be the same."

The cultured forward also has England's next Euro 2008 qualifier in his sights, saying: "I want to get back involved with England as soon as I can.

"There are plenty of strikers who will be fit and raring to go but if I am in Steve McClaren's plans then brilliant."

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