Former legend says Charlie Austin would finally replace Dean Ashton at West Ham

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Former West Ham United legend Julian Dicks believes his old club should sign Queens Park Rangers star Charlie Austin to finally replace Dean Ashton.

The Hammers have been linked with Austin for several weeks by the likes of the Metro, and yesterday betting was suspended on the East Londoners signing the 18-goal forward.

Slaven Bilic's side have been linked with a plethora of strikers but Dicks believes Austin should be the number one target.

And the man regarded as one of West Ham's best ever players, thinks the 25-year-old could finally fill the void left by Ashton's enforced retirement back in 2009.

Speaking on social networking site Twitter, Dicks said: "I think Dean Ashton was a quality player, hopefully if Austin signs he can be the same."

Dicks played 252 games over two spells for the Hammers, scoring 50 goals from left-back in the process, so is well qualified to talk about what makes a good player at the club.

Austin was one of the star turns in the Premier League last season but his goals were in vain as Rangers were relegated. But those goals could yet earn him a big money move back to the Premier League this summer.

Ashton too was an up-and-coming English striker with international ambitions when West Ham signed him for a then record £7.5 million from Norwich City in 2006.

A striker in the Alan Shearer mould, Ashton was hailed as the former Newcastle United great's natural successor in the England team.

He was a powerful and constant goal threat for the Hammers, something they lacked until the beginning of last season with Diafra Sakho.

But on December 11 2009, aged 26, after failing to recover from a long-term ankle injury sustained during international duty 'Deano', as he was affectionately known by West Ham fans, was forced to cut short a career that promised so much.

Now, nearly a decade on from signing Ashton, West Ham fans will hope another top English striker will be making his way to the Boleyn Ground but that this time it ends better for him and them.

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