The pitch, which was used again on Wednesday night for England's friendly with Egypt, was cited by Sir Alex Ferguson as a contributing factor to the hamstring injury that has ruled Manchester United striker Michael Owen out for the rest of the season.

But it has not lessened the desire of the Aston Villa manager to return to the national stadium for the FA Cup final as his side prepare to take on Reading in Sunday's quarter-final.

O'Neill has joined the chorus of disapproval aimed at the Wembley surface from the likes of James Milner, Matthew Upson, Frank Lampard and Ferguson in recent days.

The pitch for the Villa-Manchester United encounter had barely improved for the England's match Wednesday evening.

A slip on the surface by Upson led to Egypt scoring the opening goal before England recovered to win 3-1.

O'Neill said: "We are going to try to win and get back there, even though the Wembley pitch is not great. It would be fantastic.

"It is very poor for a national stadium. There is really no excuse for it.

"The stadium costs £800 million to sort out and the one thing you'd think they'd get right would be the playing surface.

"I don't know what the reason for it was but, considering it was a showpiece final, it was in very poor condition.

"It is poor in every aspect, slippery on top, divots being taken out, you lose your footing and Sir Alex Ferguson has blamed the pitch on Michael Owen's injury.

"It looks like they had played 35 games on it the previous week.

"Yes, it was the same for both teams. They've had plenty of time to get it right. It has been up and running for a couple of seasons.

"It was like they had a rock concert on it the night before. The rock concert boys would have complained about it!"

O'Neill is anticipating a tough battle to overcome the Royals who have already disposed of Liverpool and Burnley in this season's competition.

Villa need a result to put the disappointment of Sunday's final defeat behind them.

O'Neill said: "I wouldn't say it is an ideal opportunity (to bounce back). I think the game itself will be very difficult, as every bit as difficult, if not more, than against Palace.

"You saw how difficult that game was for us and we needed a replay to get through.

"Reading have done very well. Brian McDermott has stepped in there and revitalised them. It is a big occasion for both teams and it will be great if we could be in the hat for the semi-final draw.

"We will be expected to win. I would expect that. It was the same at Crystal Palace. But, in the FA Cup, anyone can be beaten on the day but that is not the attitude we are going in with.

"We are going to try and win and the experience of Wembley last week should give you the incentive to get back there."

Villa central defender Richard Dunne is expected to be fit after sustaining a leg injury against United.

The Republic of Ireland international was ruled out of his country's friendly clash with Brazil.

Skipper Stiliyan Petrov and defender James Collins did not train today but came through mid-week internationals for Bulgaria and Wales respectively.