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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Wembley to relay pitch for ninth time

The Wembley surface
The Wembley surface has come under fire in the past week

The Wembley pitch will be replaced for the ninth time in three years, with officials blaming the combined effects of a harsh winter and freak weather.

The surface has once again come in for criticism this week after the Carling Cup final on Sunday and England's friendly against Egypt on Wednesday.

But Wembley officials insist that has not affected their decision.

"This pitch has not fared well during an extremely harsh winter and needs to be replaced," said a Wembley spokesman.

The badly cut-up surface was described by James Milner after the Carling Cup final as "one of the worst pitches I've played on all year".

And Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the "heavy" pitch played its part in Michael Owen suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.


Owen's United team-mate Wayne Rooney is also an injury doubt after playing two games at Wembley in the space of four days, with his match-winning display off the bench in the Carling Cup final followed by 87 minutes of action in England's 3-1 friendly win over Egypt.

But Wembley officials say the weather - with 8cm of rain in the week leading up to the Carling Cup final and a further 4cm the night before the game - ensured a poor surface was unavoidable.

"The ground staff did very well to stage the Carling Cup despite conditions in the build-up and employed the use of a canopy to shield the pitch from the rain on Saturday night and Sunday before kick-off," added the spokesman.

"They worked round the clock and could not have done more. Conditions were better ahead of the England match but the pitch was still not good enough for our liking.

"A decision was made on Wednesday night to replace the pitch and this will take place this weekend ahead of Johnstone's Paint Trophy on 28 March.

"This will be the 10th pitch since opening but the stadium caters for football and non-football events so replacing the pitch more than once during the course of a year is a reality of a multi-purpose venue."

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see also
Rooney could miss AC Milan match
06 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
England 3-1 Egypt
03 Mar 10 |  Football
Owen ruled out for rest of season
05 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Milner criticises Wembley pitch
02 Mar 10 |  Football
Aston Villa 1-2 Man Utd
28 Feb 10 |  League Cup
FA to address Wembley pitch issue
20 Apr 09 |  Football
Why is the Wembley pitch so poor?
22 Apr 09 |  Magazine
Aussies plan Wembley pitch probe
09 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
Bilic blasts poor Wembley pitch
21 Nov 07 |  Internationals

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