Disappearing acts are becoming frequent at West Ham

17th September 2007

Kieron Dyer, Scott Parker and Julien Faubert have all gone in a puff of smoke since arriving at Upton Park in the summer.

And do not forget Matthew Upson’s injury less than 30 minutes into his debut earlier in February.

The sight of Craig Bellamy hobbling off with a groin injury caused another groan here on Saturday.

So, maybe we should not be surprised the sports psychologist Curbishley brought in last season, Roberto Forzoni, is also a magician.

Yet this member of the magic circle, also hired by the LTA to work with Andy Murray, has clearly had a positive impact since being brought in for the final 10 games of last season.

And Dean Ashton, who scored his first top-flight goal for 18 months, says Forzoni has been a major help ahead of his return to action after a nightmare spell on the sidelines.

Ashton, who broke his ankle on England duty in August last year, said: “We have had group meetings with Roberto which are very good and I speak to him when I need to. He is a good man to have around the place.

“I know him from when I played with England Under-17s. I have always liked the way he does things as he is not too much in your face.

“He has been around a long time and he knows his stuff. I have not seen any of his tricks but I heard about them. He came in at the end of last season, when I wasn’t around, and he did the tricks then.

“It’s always nice to get the first goal and an important win which puts us right up there.

“The international break was a good thing as it meant I could get a few reserve games under my belt. It made the difference as I felt a lot better in the game.

“When I scored, I felt a bit of everything. It had been a long time since I scored a Premiership goal so this was special for me.

“Even though it was only from a few yards it meant a lot.

“I could set myself targets for the season but I expect to score in every game. That is the aim. If I don’t score, I am always disappointed.

“During my time out, I was watching videos of myself scoring goals. It is the only way I kept myself going.”

Ashton added: “There are still improvements I can make. I feel fit, while you have to play games to get sharpness. But the ankle is not something which will go away and players around the country with similar injuries will say the same.

“I’ve got to work for six months to a year to eradicate that.”

Ashton’s other big hope is he can force his way back into the England reckoning ? he has got the talent.

His goal came courtesy of a cracking cross from Matthew Etherington as Middlesbrough conceded their third goal in 17 second-half minutes.

If anything, Gareth Southgate’s side looked the more comfortable in the opening period and despite the defence losing the plot after the break, Boro still had plenty of chances.

They hit the woodwork twice, forced a couple of decent stops from Rob Green and left the pitch shaking their heads in disbelief that they had just been turned over by three goals.

Uninspiring for 45 minutes, the Hammers scored a terrific opener just 21 seconds after the restart as Lee Bowyer delivered a brilliant volley following a nice ball from Carlton Cole.

Cole, who replaced crocked Bellamy in the 26th minute, then saw his pass diverted by Luke Young into his own net before Ashton sealed victory.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate said: “We’ve had a couple of really super weeks before this but, in the same way we didn’t get carried away by that, we won’t get carried away by this.

“The scoreline makes it feel worse but, in a way, that is a good thing because you take stock of things even more and you are even more determined to put it right in the next game.

“We opened them up a couple of times but didn’t take our chances. That short spell after half-time has cost us.”