Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou (right) hugs captain Lucas Neill. Photo: Reuters
LONDON: Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill admits he’s unsure if his return to English football will be enough to earn him a spot in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador.
The veteran defender on Tuesday (AEDT) signed a deal with Championship club Watford for the remainder of the season, with an option for 2015, subject to international clearance.
The move was announced barely 24 hours before Postecologu is due to name his 23 players for Australia’s March 5 friendly in London.
Neill, who has been without a club since leaving Japanese side Omiya Ardija in December, said he spoke to Postecoglou before signing the deal but was not given any assurances about his selection.
‘‘He was going to announce the squad on Wednesday and he was going to get back to me on that situation,’’ he told Fox Sports.
‘‘He has to look at a lot of options at the moment because it’s his last squad before he can pick his team for the middle of May, when the team meets up for the World Cup.
‘‘I’m not going to read too much into it, whether I’m in or out. I know I need game time, as do a lot of other players who are just about to start a season. So there’s no need for me to panic at the moment.
‘‘I know the team put in a good performance when we played Costa Rica back in Sydney a few months ago. I’m hoping that’s still in his memory when he comes to think about May.’’
The 35-year-old had been increasingly desperate to secure a deal before the World Cup in Brazil, which kicks off on June 12.
He recently spent a few weeks training with his former English Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers and played a game in their youth side, in the hope of securing a contract for the remainder of the season.
However, the club was unable to offer him anything.
He had also been in discussions with NSW state league side Sydney Olympic.
‘‘I am relieved because it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated,’’ Neill said.
‘I’ve waited patiently and trained for a long time now – from the middle of December back in England.
‘‘But I made a specific choice to want to come back to England for the next half-year to a year-and-a-half.
‘‘I knew Watford was a club that had ambitions to be in the Premier League again [after] they missed out narrowly last year.
‘‘They needed some experience and leadership, and I was humble enough to come down and train for a week, to show them I was still motivated and wanted to be part of an exciting club.
‘‘I must’ve ticked all the boxes, and here we are, signed up.’’