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Whittaker: Deserved win at Man City

Stoke 18 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 15, 2006

'Sven may regret not picking Ashton' - Pardew

West Ham manager Alan Pardew believes Sven-Goran Eriksson could live to regret overlooking Dean Ashton for England's World Cup squad.

Ashton, who moved to West Ham in January for a club record £7.25million, shook off a hamstring injury to produce a superb individual display in Saturday's FA Cup final.

He played a key role in creating West Ham's first goal and scored the second with an opportunist's finish after a fumble from Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina.

Ashton would always have been a gamble for Eriksson given he has not completed a full season in the Barclays Premiership after consecutive January transfers to Norwich, who were relegated, and West Ham.

But Eriksson has proved he is no longer averse to the odd risk by selecting 17-year-old Theo Walcott - and Pardew feels the England boss could have missed a trick.

'Dean has been unfortunate not to travel. If I was losing in an international game he would be a fantastic player to have on the bench to come on and affect the game,' said Pardew.

'He's gets shots off and he links play up so well - and if teams drop deep, which they will do if you're losing, or if you need a goal, he's brilliant at that.

'He was brilliant on Saturday. He only trained one day in the 10 days before the game and he was very good.'

Ashton was eventually replaced by Bobby Zamora after 70 minutes, having run himself into the ground.

He was not only creative on the deck, but Ashton is a physical presence in the air and he was dropping deep to help West Ham deal with Liverpool's central midfield.

'Deano had a lot of work to do apart from the quality he showed,' said Pardew. 'He was very diligent and he just signalled to me he couldn't go on.'

Ashton took little pleasure from his goal or his eye-catching individual display because he still left the Millennium Stadium with a runners-up medal.

So disappointed was he that Ashton would not even concede that West Ham's performance on the biggest of occasions - they never trailed in the match - would stand the squad in good stead heading into next season's UEFA Cup. 'There are no positives,' he said. 'The only thing you can take out of the game is how good the fans were and how many turned up and what a fantastic atmosphere they created. I am afraid when you lose in an FA Cup final, it means nothing.

'Obviously no-one can ever take it away from me that I have played and scored in an FA Cup final but it is not going to matter for a couple of weeks.

'It is still the simple fact that we lost the FA Cup final. And the players are inconsolable.'

West Ham were leading 3-2 as the game entered injury-time when Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard unleashed a thunderbolt that beat Shaka Hislop from 35 yards.

'When there are players on the pitch like Gerrard, it is never over,' said Ashton. 'With four minutes to go your only thoughts are that you are going to win it and lift the cup.

'For him to score with that amount of time left is devastating. But there are not many players in the world that can produce that.

'The main thing is not to let it get to you. Obviously it is heartbreaking but you don't want to let it spill into next season and we want to get off to a good start next season.'