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GREGORY: PLAYERS WILL HAVE TO TRAIN FOR THEIR PLACES

John Gregory has issued an ultimatum to his Aston Villa players, telling them they are training for their FA Cup Final lives this week. The former player made the comments after yesterday's 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United.
Said Gregory: "We will certainly do some work on the training ground today and Tuesday and keep an eye on all of them. The players that play will play on merit and the team I will pick will have no sentiment about it. There are still one or two places up for grabs for next Saturday."

Gregory has some decisions to make about his midfield and Ian Taylor made a successful return against United after six weeks out with a hamstring injury to stake his claim.

Steve Stone and defender Steve Watson came back to training over the weekend following injuries and Gregory reckons even they could make a case claim for a berth in his squad.

Fans' favourite Taylor appeared as a second-half substitute and Gregory said: "He's come a long way since his injury, since the Bolton semi-final. He's made a lot of progress and anyone will tell you that a hamstring can hang around for quite a considerable time.

"We've managed to get him this far and I didn't want to throw him in against Manchester United and put a lot of pressure on him. He's got another six days, which will mean a hell of a lot to him to get a little bit more fitness back and make sure that hamstring stays strong.

"Steve Stone's only had one training session, that was on Saturday, and so he's got an opportunity next week. Him and Steve Watson have just had the one training session, so they have got a chance of being involved," he concluded.
 

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Not that anything I pasted below would be any new for you, but I just thought it's a nice little feature...

Also, I personally learned that Gary Barlow is only 19 and why Kafka hangs here regularly. However, will the Suomi kepper ever pass the dye-blonde dude ? probably not... :)

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Penpix of players likely to be in

the Aston Villa squad to face Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday:

Goalkeepers

David James, 29. Was named in Kevin Keegan's initial England squad of 28 for the Euro 2000 finals this week -- real recognition that he is back to his best after an unhappy spell at Liverpool. Saved two penalties in the shoot-out against Bolton Wanderers in the semifinal at Wembley. Joined Villa last year for 1.8 million pounds ($2.70 million) and has caused his critics to think again as he has proved to be an excellent buy.

Peter Enckelman, 23. Finnish under-21 international who has proved a reliable deputy for James when needed. Joined Villa for 200,000 pounds ($300,000) from Jalkapallo TPS in January 1999.

Defenders

Ugo Ehiogu, 27. London-born central defender who has had a fine season. Capped once by England four years ago, he began at West Bromwich Albion before moving to Villa in 1991 and has made nearly 300 appearances for the club.

Gareth Southgate, 29. Aston Villa's skipper who has settled in defence although he usually played in midfield when he was at Crystal Palace. Joined Villa for 2.5 million pounds ($3.74 million) in July 1995. Playing in his first FA Cup final after previously experiencing semifinal defeats with both Palace and Villa, he is no stranger to Wembley where he missed the decisive penalty in yet another semifinal defeat when England lost on penalties to Germany in Euro'96.

Alan Wright, 28. Has come close to being selected for England several times without quite making it, he is one of Villa's most consistent performers as a left-sided wingback. Joined Villa for 900,000 pounds ($1.35 million) from Blackburn Rovers in March 1995.

Gareth Barry, 19. Tipped for a great future and been called into some recent England squads, although he has not made the initial 28 for Euro 2000. Plays on the left-side of defence and has great maturity and composure under pressure for a teenager.

Mark Delaney, 24. Joined Villa from Cardiff City last season and recently earned his first Welsh cap. Was sent off against Bolton in the semifinal at Wembley on April 2.

Midfielders

Lee Hendrie, will be 23 on Thursday. Another tipped for a long international career although he has not made the Euro 2000 28 either. Has great ball control and vision and although he has not had a great season by his standards, is always a potential danger.

George Boateng, 24. Ghanian-born Dutch Under-21 international who began his career with Feyenoord. Moved to Aston Villa after a spell with midland rivals Coventry City and after a shaky start earlier in the season, his improvement has been at the heart of Villa's revival.

Paul Merson, 32. Aston Villa's Player of the Year, he has been playing some of the best football of his career this season. Began at Arsenal where he won the FA Cup and League Cup (both 1993), two League championships (1989 and 1991), and the European Cup Winners Cup (1994) -- although he has publicly stated many times he hardly remembers any of those successes because of the amount of alcohol he was drinking at the time. Finally put the drinking and Arsenal behind him with move to Middlesbrough in 1997 before finally joining Villa for 6.75 million pounds ($10.11 million) in September 1998.

Ian Taylor, 31. Will see a dream come true when he plays on Saturday after supporting Villa as a boy. If he scores the winner, then the fantasy will be complete. Joined Villa from Sheffield Wednesday in December 1994 and has had a good season with a number of important goals to his name.

Steve Stone, 28. Joined Villa from Nottingham Forest for 5.5 million pounds ($8.24 million) in March 1999 -- but has struggled to establish himself in the side. A member of England's Euro'96 squad who has battled back from a broken leg. Can play wide on the right or in the centre of midfield.

Alan Thompson, 26. His trademark long-range goals are an important part of his midfield contribution where his battling qualities brought him England Under-21 honours. May have to be content with a place on the bench.

Steve Watson, 26. Defensive midfielder who signed from Newcastle United in October 1998 and who has recovered from injury in the second half of the season. Can play on the right or centre of both defence and midfield.

Forwards

Dion Dublin, 31. Returned to action in March after breaking a bone in his neck in December, he wasted no time in making his mark -- scoring the penalty that ultimately gave Villa victory in the semifinal over Bolton on April 2. Sometime England international who also played for Cambridge United, Manchester United and Coventry City. Was tipped for a long career at Old Trafford but a broken leg restricted his chances and Alex Ferguson reluctantly sold him to give him a chance to re-establish his career at Highfield Road.

Julian Joachim, 25. Has great pace and is a real threat in front of goal. Voted Villa's Player of the Season last season for his 16 goals. Works hard and has the ability to unhinge anay defence, but may have to be content with a substitute's role on Saturday.

Benito Carbone, 28. Scored an outstanding hat-trick against Leeds United in the fifth round and the winner against Everton in the quarter-final. Has been on loan to Villa all season from Sheffield Wednesday, his pace, skill and Alice-band have made him a firm favourite with the fans. Previous clubs include Torino, Napoli and Inter Milan.

Richard Walker, 22. Youngster who has come into the first team on occasion this season and marked his first premier league start for Villa with a goal against Arsenal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That was a nice little resume of the Villains Alexx :)

Yep our little teenage sensation Barlow is only 19! And that big bad Kafka had better stay away! Would have a fight on his hands anyway....our Gareth has the popularity of Robbie Williams more than Barlow with the ladies (and of the older variety too..shame on them!)

UP THE VILLA :)
 

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Found this also!

HENDRIE BRACED FOR CUP HEARTBREAK

Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie is bracing himself for FA Cup final heartbreak - with Steve Stone likely to join him in the stands on Saturday.
The England Under-21 man, who has one senior cap, has been dogged by injury problems all season, but although he is back to full fitness he thinks the Wembley showcase will come too soon for him.

"I am not really expecting to make the team. If I'm in there it is going to be a bonus for me," he said.

"I'd love to be playing but I don't want to be too disappointed, so I'm settings my sights on being on the bench. Last time (in the semi-final) I was substitute against Bolton, and came on to take a penalty. This time I'd love to come on to notch the winner - it would salvage my season

"I think the gaffer will ease us off on Thursday and name the team. At the moment we are all a bit tense. I would be disappointed not to be involved in some way as it will be such a great day really."

Gregory confirmed that George Boateng will be in his starting 11 and, with Paul Merson another certainty to play, the other midfield slot is between Ian Taylor and Steve Stone.

The indications are that Taylor will get the nod after returning to fitness from the torn hamstring suffered in the semi-final against Bolton.
 
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I read a thread from someone who had entrance to training at Bodymore heat, and he said that he knew the starting lineup, but couldnt reveal it, but he said that he was happy with that side.

That can only mean that Dublin/Carbone and Taylor will start (in my opinion)...

So things loooking good ?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would be really happy to see Taylor and Boateng in the midfield, because they could dominate the midfield, and I wouldn't bet against Taylor scoring again at Wembley like he did in the 96 League Cup final!

C'MON U VILLA!!!

UP THE VILLA!
 
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