Another new pitch for Wembley

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Wembley's controversial pitch is to replaced for the 10th time since the new stadium was opened three years ago due to the combined effects of a harsh winter and freak weather conditions.

The decision to change the surface once more was taken on Wednesday night after the England match against Egypt, and the Football Association insist it is not a knee-jerk reaction to negative comments from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his Aston Villa counterpart Martin O'Neill after the Carling Cup final last Sunday.

Ferguson claimed the pitch played a part in ending Michael Owen's season after he suffered a hamstring injury in the final, as well as leaving Wayne Rooney vulnerable to injury following two tiring games in four days on the energy-sapping surface.

The Wembley ground staff battled hard against the elements to get the pitch in good condition ahead of the final and Wednesday's England international, with 80 millimetres of rain in the week leading up to the Carling Cup final and a further 40mm the night before the game .

A Wembley spokesman said: "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.

"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 (JPT) on March 28.

"Ultimately, this pitch has not fared well through what has been an extremely harsh winter and it needs to be replaced.

"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."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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League Cup
Michael Owen
Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Aston Villa

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