Ashton is a perfect fit for us, says Pardew

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The Independent Football

The West Ham United manager Alan Pardew believes the signing of Dean Ashton from Norwich City is a "statement of intent" to other teams in the Premiership.

The 22-year-old Ashton has agreed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Hammers and completed a deal worth more than £7m.

Pardew's side have been impressive on their return to the top flight and have a chance of qualifying for Europe next season, and he believes the signing of Ashton shows the club's ambition.

"People may have thought we panicked to buy a striker but that is not the case," Pardew said. "We've probably paid a little over the odds, considering where he is in his career but for us it just fits perfectly.

"He can justify the fee and maybe be worth more in the future. It's a statement of intent for us to compete with some of the bigger teams in the League."

Ashton was delighted to have the chance of proving himself in the top flight again after his goals almost saved Norwich from relegation last season.

"When West Ham came along I jumped at the chance to be back in the Premiership," he said. "My ambition has been to be playing in the Premiership regularly, hopefully the club can make the best of my ability.

"I put pressure on myself to perform and do the best I can. I don't think about the fee, I just get on and play my football."

Pardew is now looking forward to seeing Ashton competing with Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood as well as Teddy Sheringham and Yaniv Katan.

"I've not clouded the issue, the competition will now be fierce," Pardew said.

Ashton hopes to emulate a string of illustrious West Ham No 9s. "So many players have worn that shirt and hopefully I can do just as well. I'll be looking forward to putting it on for the first time," Ashton said.

"This club is moving forward, you can see that in how well they have performed this season and hopefully, if selected, I'll play as well as I can, work as hard as I can and you don't know where that can take you."

Pardew believes the veteran striker Sheringham will be the perfect foil for Ashton in terms of passing on his experience. "Dean's style of play is the type a person like Teddy is perfect to play off in terms of how to play the role that Teddy plays, and that is a key point," Pardew said.

Ashton's former Norwich team-mate, the midfielder Dickson Etuhu has backed him to be a success. Despite Pardew admitting paying "over the odds" for him, Etuhu believes Ashton will prove to be a shrewd investment.

"He deserves everything he gets, he's a nice lad and a quality player," Etuhu said. "He's strong, got two good feet and scores goals for fun - they're getting a good player for the price they have paid.

"He's done well in the Premiership before and I'm sure he'll do so again, there's no doubt in my mind he'll be a success."