The World Cup career of longtime Australian defender Lucas Neill is apparently over after the 36-year-old was told he has been left off Coach Ange Postecoglou's 30-man preliminary roster, which will be formally announced next week.
Neill, who was given the captain's armband for the first time in 2006 and played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup for Australia, has 96 international appearances, second-most all-time for the Socceroos.
Neill made his Australia debut in 1996. He has played in England for Millwall, Blackburn, Everton and West Ham, among other teams. He is currently on loan from Watford to the Doncaster Rovers.
“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, according to the Associated Press. “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.”
Postecoglou took over as coach in October when Holger Osieck was fired after consecutive 6-0 exhibition losses to Brazil and France. Postecoglou wanted to tell Neill before the roster is announced.
"It was difficult,” the coach said. “He's worked [very] hard to get himself ready and available; he's shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup.”
Australia is in Group B in Brazil with defending champion Spain, 2010 finalist Netherlands and Chile.