PFA fear Ashton could take legal action against Wright-Phillips

Players' chief Gordon Taylor is hopeful that Dean Ashton will not need to resort to taking legal action against former England team-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips after the West Ham man was forced to announce his retirement today.

The 26-year-old suffered an ankle injury in a challenge by Wright-Phillips, then a Chelsea player, during an England training session in August 2006 that forced Ashton to miss the entire 2006-07 season.

He recovered to make 31 league appearances in 2007-08 but he made his last appearance for the Hammers in September 2008 after renewed ankle problems and has now been forced to quit.

Reports in this morning's national press suggested Ashton may look to launch legal action against Wright-Phillips, but Professional Footballers Association chief executive Taylor hopes financial recompense can be organised via club or national team insurance to avoid player-versus-player litigation.

He told Press Association Sport: "I hope it doesn't come to that because nobody would think that Shaun Wright-Phillips was a malicious player at all.

"At the moment we've been speaking to his representatives and the situation is about looking to get proper compensation without discussing any player-v-player action."

Taylor accepts the issue of compensation is a "complex" one in this case, with Ashton suffering a season-ending injury while on England duty but then returned to club action before breaking down again in September 2008.

He added: "He tried to come back but he has not been able to come back to the situation he was in before, but that's why it's complex because (the initial injury) happened while he was with England.

"When a player plays for England, the club informs the FA the amount of cover that they would require for him, and clearly he was a very valuable player."

Taylor was saddened by the news of Ashton's retirement and insisted the PFA would now do all they could to assist him in the future.

"It's extremely sad. He was a great talent and it is one of the hazards of the profession. Dean Ashton was quality, and it is even more disappointing that (the initial injury) happened while on England duty," he added.

"We want to have a word with him about his future, to see if he wants to stay in the game. We will offer him various courses - coaching, media - there's a whole host of opportunities really if he wants to stay connected with the game."

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