Lucas Neill has played down his return to Sydney, instead eyeing three points against the Central Coast Mariners to get the Sky Blues' finals push back on track
|By CARLY ADNO
He last played a domestic league match in his hometown when he was 17, but the quest for points rather than sentiment is the focus for Sydney FC's Lucas Neill.
The veteran defender will turn out for his new club at Allianz Stadium in a crucial match against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.
Neill, who celebrates his 35th birthday on the day of the game, will be hoping to help his club return to winning ways after consecutive losses.
"[It's my] first domestic game in Sydney since I played with the [Australian] Institute of Sport, probably 17 years ago," Neill told journalists on Wednesday.
"But I'm familiar with the stadium [Allianz]. I've played on it a few times."
The Sky Blues have dropped to eighth place and desperately need to stop the slide.
But it will be a tough challenge against the Mariners, who were knocked from the top of the A-League table on Saturday by Western Sydney Wanderers shortly before the Sky Blues slumped 2-1 to Perth Glory.
"Now would be a great time to, against a very strong team, get three vital points," Neill said.
"It will be a very, very tough game - we're going to have to earn our points."
With just four games remaining in the regular season, Neill has urged his teammates to stay focused on collecting points. He also cited a need to improve discipline, with six players seeing red in the Sky Blues' last seven matches.
"This week the focus is on keeping it tight," he said.
"Hopefully keeping a clean sheet and keeping 11 players on the field."
The Australia captain said he had fitted in well at training and is feeling comfortable at Sydney FC, having signed with the club on a short-term deal in February.
"Being from Sydney it's not been a hard transition," he said.
"The difficulty has been that things haven't gone well on the field.
"All that's missing now is a win."