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Aston Villa star Lee Hendrie
"No doubt the sun will be shining on Wembley"
 real 28k

Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Hendrie braced for Wembley heartbreak
Lee Hendrie (right) expects to be on the bench
Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie looks set to start Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea on the bench.

Hendrie, in the England Under-21 squad for the European Championship finals in Slovakia later this month, has been dogged by injury problems this season including four lay-offs with various ankle injuries.

He is back to fitness now but believes it has come too late for Gregory to include him in the starting line-up for Saturday's Wembley clash.

I'm not building my expectation level up because then I would be more disappointed if I wasn't playing

Lee Hendrie
Hendrie, who won his one senior England cap last season, said: "I am not really expecting to make the team. If I'm in there it is going to be a bonus for me.

"I'm not building my expectation level up because then I would be more disappointed if I wasn't playing.

"It will be nice to be part of things in some way. That's what I am working towards, being on the substitutes' bench. If I come on it will be an added bonus."

Boateng to start

Villa boss John Gregory, who informed his players of the line-up on Thursday, confirmed George Boateng would start and, with Paul Merson a certainty to play, the other midfield slot is between Ian Taylor and Stone.

"George has done a good job for us and he definitely starts on Saturday," he said.

Paul Merson: Sure to start
"He had a difficult opening spell here and maybe I was asking him to do things he couldn't do.

"A lot of the blame lays at my door, but he is now in a far less complicated role in central midfield where he has been very effective.

"His partnerships with either Ian Taylor, Steve Stone or Lee Hendrie has enabled Paul Merson to express himself a lot better for us."

Joachim pays price

The indications are that Taylor will get the nod in the third midfield slot after returning to fitness from the torn hamstring suffered in the semi-final against Bolton six weeks ago.

Steve Stone has also been sidelined but came through a full-scale practice match at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground unscathed on Monday.

Dion Dublin will continue his remarkable comeback after his broken neck in December alongside Benito Carbone, whose future will be resolved next week.

It will mean Julian Joachim paying the price for his ill-fated trip to the Caribbean to play for St Vincent in a World Cup qualifier when he was ineligible.

David James will return between the posts after resting a slight groin problem against Manchester United and Mark Delaney is set to get the nod ahead of Steve Watson at right wing-back.

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See also:

13 May 00 | FA Cup
Roads to Wembley
13 May 00 | FA Cup
Aston Villa squad guide
13 May 00 | FA Cup
Chelsea squad guide