Should Lucas Neill be in the Socceroos squad to face Ecuador?

The 96-cap veteran's career could be over if he misses out on the squad for the friendly in London. John Greco and Iain Strachan make the case for and against picking Neill
For (John Greco)

Socceroos boss Angle Postecoglou has been quite vocal in his stance that he won't pick players who aren't playing regularly for their clubs.

But with just one more meaningful friendly before he selects his final 23-man squad for the World Cup, now is not the time for too much experimenting.

Sure there are factors that work against Neill.

He is only a couple of weeks short of his 36th birthday, has barely played since the Socceroos' last clash against Costa Rica and is well short of the form that saw him star at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

But what shouldn't be forgotten is the Socceroos aren't exactly flush with options in the centre of defence.

Injuries to leading contenders Rhys Williams and Trent Sainsbury mean they won't be eligible to face Ecuador.

It leaves Postecoglou with the likes of Ryan McGowan, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson and even Nikolai Topor-Stanley as options at centre-back.

They are all fit and in good enough form to be given an opportunity against the South Americans but lack the international experience to be thrust straight into a tournament like the World Cup.

But with a player of Neill's know-how and calm demeanour alongside them – at least in training – has to help their progression.

Neill, who is the Socceroos' most-capped skipper, has runs on the board to hold his spot on the squad.

And who knows, maybe a good showing against Ecuador and he could yet find himself a club before the end of the season.
Against (Iain Strachan)

Selecting Lucas Neill for Australia's friendly against Ecuador next month would be a laughable, hypocritical decision from Ange Postecolgou.

The 35-year-old has produced three good performances for club or country in the last two years. Fortunately for Australia, they came during the all-important final matches of the World Cup qualifying campaign, and no-one can fault Neill's efforts in that vital cause.

But since then the centre-back's sharp decline has continued unchecked. A short spell in the J-League with Omiya Ardija produced mistakes, red and yellow cards and penalties for opposing teams. Ripped to shreds by Brazil and France last year, he hasn't found a club since leaving Japan, with A-League sides, who scrapped for his services in January 2013, turning their noses up 12 months on at the prospect of signing him.

That should tell you everything you need to know about Neill's potential worth at this stage of his career. Fortunate to be selected and retained as skipper for the friendly against Costa Rica as a mark of respect to his previous accomplishments, he should be nowhere near what has already been flagged by Postecoglou as an experimental squad to take on Ecuador in London.

The closest Neill has come in three months to kicking a ball in anger has been a youth team game with his former club Blackburn Rovers. Having failed to grasp numerous opportunities to bow out on a high, playing with kids on a cold February night in northern England would hardly be a fitting end for one of the great servants of Australian football, but that fate may now be unavoidable.