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Lucas Neill rejects calls to retire from Socceroos

The national team skipper has no intention of handing back his green and gold shirt, meaning the ageing centre-back is likely to be pushed rather than jump ahead of the World Cup

Lucas Neill has rejected calls to retire from Socceroos duty, hitting out at his critics and questioning the ambition of Australian coaches.

Neill has come under a blowtorch of scrutiny in the wake of Australia's successive 6-0 defeats at the hands of Brazil and France, which prompted the sacking of coach Holger Osieck.

The 35-year-old captain has been singled out by media and supporters alike as the ringleader of a clique of older players overstaying their welcome with the national team, but he is nevertheless determined to weather the storm.

Speaking ahead of the Socceroos' friendly against Canada on Tuesday, Neill was unequivocal when asked if was going to call time on his career:

"No," he said.

"I have value to this team. I know I can bring a lot of good attributes to this team. I am victim, the same as anyone else at the moment, of a team that has lost two games 6-0, 6-0.

"Am I slowing down? Well I'm not getting any faster, I'm getting older. But football is a team game. And I have a very big responsibility now, as captain, to get the wheels back on the tracks. We have 10 months, nine months before a major tournament.

"I feel partly responsible that this team goes into that tournament in the best possible shape they can. In the best frame of mind and hopefully with a lot of confidence.

"I am committed to being captain of this country for as long as the people in charge give me that status."

Former Australia goalkeeper Mark Bosnich has identified Neill as a key reason for the Socceroos' inept recent performances, with those comments prompting a rebuke from the centre-back.

"I expect better from people who have played the game and certainly from people who call themselves my friend," Neill said.

"The last two games nobody has shown any form, myself included. But the three games before that, the most important games Australia has played in the last three years, I'd like to think my form was very good. And it led to the team going on to three very important results that got us to the World Cup."

Ange Postecoglou of Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners title-winner Graham Arnold are the leading domestic candidates to replace Osieck.

But when asked if an A-League coach was ready to take the top job, Neill expressed his misgivings.

"That's a very difficult thing to say and you might never know until they try," he said.

"I'd love to see more Australian managers have the ambition to go and be the best coaches in the world. Footballers for the last 20 years in Australia have gone over and challenged themselves to be the best players they can be.

"We need coaches to have that ambition too. To go and see if they can crack the big time in Europe, just like the players did."

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