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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Hammers get good news over Cole ankle injury

West Ham United have been boosted by the news that Carlton Cole has not broken his ankle after he limped off during their FA Cup fifth round draw with Middlesbrough at the weekend.

The England international, who has been in great form of late, had sparked fears he had seriously damaged his ankle; however, an X-ray has shown there are no broken bones.

A statement read: ''A positive X-ray on Sunday showed no fracture and, ahead of an MRI scan to come, it is hoped the sprain could lead to only a two-week absence at worst.''

The Hammers have also confirmed that Portuguese forward Luis Boa Morte will be out for a month with a groin injury he suffered against Boro, while Dean Ashton has said he will probably miss the rest of the season with his injury.

The striker has absent from action since picking up an ankle injury in September and despite intensive rehabilitation has not made the required progress.

"I think realistically pre-season is my target," said the 25-year-old. "I've just had an operation and the surgeons are pleased, but obviously it's a setback I didn't really want. I need to get over this operation, get myself properly fit and I don't want to rush back before I'm ready."

Despite this latest setback, though, Ashton remains upbeat. "Mentally I am strong enough to get through it, but I'm like anybody else when I'm missing football. It's the worst feeling not being able to play," he said. "When I'm back fit then I'll try to get back both in the England and West Ham teams."

Meanwhile, Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola is hoping to tie down a number of his squad to new deals in the coming weeks.

Scott Parker has just penned a new long-term deal - but Zola is now looking for Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson and Robert Green to follow suit.

"There are players that have been very important this season on and off the pitch," he said. "They are the core of this team and I believe they can be the core of this team for a long time.

"The club knows this and they are offering them contracts and they deserve that. It is good for stability. They are positive players and they will help us to build something important. Hopefully soon Lucas Neill will be signing a contract.

"Things are going well here we just need to understand that we want this to be for a long time. The idea is to make a blend of experienced players and young talented players to mix together and perform. The club has been fantastic this year.

"In difficult times, in difficult moments - such as when the team wasn't doing well and people kept talking badly about the club - the club kept their composure.

"They backed the team and support them all the time and now they are getting the reward for all the patience they had in those moments."

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