Speed dreams of capital gains

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The Independent Football

Gary Speed has understandably never even dreamed of contesting an FA Cup final in the Welsh capital, but with this season's showpiece event the first to be staged at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium while Wembley is rebuilt - or not? - the possibility has now definitely crossed the Wales captain's mind.

Gary Speed has understandably never even dreamed of contesting an FA Cup final in the Welsh capital, but with this season's showpiece event the first to be staged at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium while Wembley is rebuilt - or not? - the possibility has now definitely crossed the Wales captain's mind.

"I wouldn't say it gives me an extra incentive because I'd want to get there wherever it was played, but if we do get there, it would certainly be special," says Speed.

Yet the 31-year-old Deeside-born midfielder, who has been forced to settle for two losers' medals in his time with Newcastle, is only too aware that there is a long way to go between Newcastle's third-round encounter with John Gregory's Aston Villa at St James' Park today and the FA Cup final in May."Our games against Villa in the past have been very tight," adds Speed. "There are not usually many goals in it, and the form of both clubs this season has been very similar. We've both been up and down and we've got similar positions in the Premiership, so it will be a very tough game."

Newcastle's task has been made all the more difficult by a striking crisis which has left them without Alan Shearer, Carl Cort and Kevin Gallacher, but their manager, Bobby Robson, has seen a spirited response from his team. Speed in particular has been in outstanding form, playing key roles in the Boxing Day victory over his former club Leeds and the draw with Manchester United four days later, as well as the controversial 4-2 defeat at Tottenham on Tuesday evening which ended with three players being sent off.

"I just go out and try my best in every game," says Speed. "It might look like I'm giving more, but I'm just trying to do what I always do. In the last few games we've been more together, and if you have 11 players in a team pulling together and working hard for each other, that's more efficient than 11 individuals working hard. Hopefully, if we can do that again on Sunday, we'll have a chance of getting through."

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