Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Sydney: Long-serving national team captain Lucas Neill will not be selected for Australia’s provisional 30-man squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this June, coach Ange Postecoglou has announced.
The 96-time internationally capped defender was left without a club since departing J-League club Omiya Ardija in November last year and was not called up for the Socceroos’ last friendly against Ecuador in March.
The 36-year-old secured a month loan deal in late March with English Championship club Doncaster but Postecoglou felt Neill was not ready for World Cup duty.
“In the end I just had to make a decision not so much about the recent history but the last six months in terms of form and fitness,” Postecoglou said on footballaustralia.com.au.
“There just wasn’t enough evidence there for me to say he’d be able to hold up in a World Cup. It was both a combination of the lack of regular football and the little niggles he got that made the decision for me.”
Neill, who made his international debut at the age of 18, put on the skipper’s armband for the 61st time in his last international against Costa Rica and broke the Socceroo record.
Considering Neill’s achievements at international and club level, Postecoglou felt it was important to inform Neill personally of his decision before the World Cup squad was announced.
“I had a conversation with Lucas regarding the World Cup squad and obviously before I announced the 30-man squad next week I thought it was important for me to speak to him directly,” said Postecoglou.
“I informed him that he hasn’t made the 30, from my perspective paying due respect to the fact that he’s been the captain for six years and the captain of the World Cup campaign so far.
“It was difficult, he’s worked damn hard to get himself ready and available, he’s shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup. You can see why he’s played for his country as many times as he has and why he was a leader, he’s gone down fighting.
“My discussions with him were purely about the World Cup and he has every intention of continuing to play on and play next year, probably in Europe.”