England striker forced to retire

The 26-year-old has been struggling with an ankle injury he first sustained on international duty in 2006.

Ashton has been told by doctors that he could risk being unable to walk properly if he continues his football career, according to The Sun.

Ashton joined the Hammers in a £7.2million from Norwich in January 2006.

Hammers CEO Scott Duxbury told the club’s official website: “This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean.

“I would like to place on record our thanks to him for all his efforts and wish him the very best.

“I would also like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time.”