SPORTING LISBON'S Hugo Viana has made an impassioned plea to Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd as a UEFA Cup final between the two clubs took a step closer on Thursday night.

Viana is on loan at Sporting and was part of the team that put one foot in the quarter-finals when they scored three away goals in the win at Middlesbrough.

Newcastle's chances of going all the way also strengthened in Greece when they overcame Olympiacos 3-1 ahead of the return leg at St James' Park on Wednesday.

But if the sides were to reach the last two on May 18 - to be held at Sporting's Estadio Jose Alvalade home - a clause in the loan deal means Viana can not play.

The 22-year-old has already missed out on playing against Newcastle once this season, when Sporting drew 1-1 on Tyneside in a group game before Christmas.

But, if the two clubs progress, Viana is pleading with Shepherd and boss Graeme Souness to relax their decision to keep him out.

However, the attacking midfielder - recalling how Lomana LuaLua scored against the Magpies while on loan at Portsmouth last season - is not too hopeful of a turnaround.

"I'd love to play in the final if we got there, and I'd love to play against Newcastle but I have an agreement," said Viana. "We've still got many games to get there first. If we get there I will ask the chairman to play. Everyone wants to play in the UEFA Cup final.

"They don't pay my salary, Sporting do and that's why I'm asking to be able to play. It'd be a dream final - Newcastle v Sporting - for me even if I couldn't play.

"We're still talking, they've not made a decision yet but they'll tell me in April. The fans know I'm happy at Sporting, I've been with the club since I was 14."

Viana loves being back in his home country and hopes a deal can be reached to make sure he stays beyond this campaign. The £8.5m paid by Newcastle in 2002 could still prove a stumbling block to a move but Viana said: "I will do everything I possibly can to stay with Sporting."