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By ESPN Staff

Lampard joins criticism of Wembley surface

Frank Lampard joined in the condemnation of Wembley's pitch on Tuesday by insisting the surface should be in pristine condition for all the top games.

Lampard starred for Chelsea in their 2-1 win over Arsenal in the first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday but he was left unimpressed by the state of the surface and believes it has been spoiled by the ground hosting too many functions.

Lampard set up both of Chelsea's goals against the Gunners with superb long passes to Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba but the midfielder admitted the pitch was too ''bobbly'' and cut up far too easily.

''It wasn't good and it isn't good,'' said Lampard. ''I don't know why they have so many events here and things like that. It just means the pitch cuts up and is bobbly.

''It is not the way it should be kept. It should be kept in perfect condition for England games, FA Cup games and the play-offs. At the moment it's not.''

Lampard's comments come as the Football Association accepted the Wembley turf was still not good enough.

Last weekend's semi-finals were hampered by the pitch's uneven surface which prompted Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to claim that it affected his team selection and was ''spongy and dead''.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger claimed the ground would never be in a suitable condition for a good match but the FA said there are no plans to replace the turf before the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Everton at the end of May.

Changing the turf is scheduled to take place ahead of the Community Shield in August - after the ground has held another three pop concerts.

An FA statement said: ''Wembley Stadium is working continuously with independent consultants and the grounds team to assess maintenance procedures and pitch composition. They aim to overcome these challenges and ensure the most suitable surface is achieved for all codes of sport.

''Whilst recent changes to the surface have seen improvements in player traction, we accept there are still further improvements to be made.''

The pitch has had to be re-laid five times in two years since the new £750million stadium opened.

The standard of the turf even prompted the Australian Rugby Union to investigate whether it contributed to injuries to two Wallabies in an international against the Barbarians in November last year.

Before the end of the season, the pitch will have to withstand three Football League play-off finals plus the Blue Square Premier play-off final, the FA Cup final and the finals of the FA Trophy and Vase.

England then play a World Cup qualifier against Andorra on June 10 before the ground hosts a concert by Aussie rockers AC/DC on June 26 and three Oasis datesand four Take That gigs in July

Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink has added his voice to the criticism.

''It's been said a lot and it's good to criticise the pitch because it's true, it's not 100% for a beautiful occasion like that. It's not a 100% pitch, that's for sure.''


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