Desperate Lucas Neill leaves no stone unturned

The veteran defender is pulling out all the stops in his bid to earn a national team recall, securing a short-term switch from one Championship club to another
By Iain Strachan

You have the hand it to Lucas Neill, who is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to reach the World Cup.

In late February, after three months without a club since leaving Omija Ardija, Neill penned a deal with Watford until the end of the Championship season, desperate to convince Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou he is worth taking to Brazil.

The 36-year-old has played just six minutes for the Vicarage Road outfit and is now on the move again, securing a loan to Doncaster, who are struggling at the wrong end of the same division.

It was a Blackburn connection that made the switch possible, with former team-mate Paul Dickov, now the manager at Keepmoat Stadium, willing to bring in his old Ewood Park colleague.

"I played with him at Blackburn and I know him very well," Dickov told the Doncaster Rovers website.

"Lucas is as fit now as I have ever seen him, which is credit to him and his attitude.

"There were a lot of other Championship clubs interested in signing him, but he wanted to come to Doncaster."

We'll have to take Dickov's word for it, but it's hard to imagine clubs banging down the door of Neill's agents to get the creaking veteran in for their promotion push or relegation scrap.

Based on his performances for Sydney FC, Omiya and in the Socceroos' nightmare friendlies against Brazil and France, the other clubs threatened with demotion to League One may well be rubbing their hands together.

However, regardless of the footballing merits of signing Neill, you cannot question his extraordinary determination to feature at a third World Cup.

Plenty of his golden generation contemporaries have fallen by the wayside in the last 12 months. Mark Schwarzer announced his retirement from international football in November, while Brett Emerton hung up his boots altogether in January. Harry Kewell is set to join him next month.

But not Neill. Despite being made a scapegoat for the on-field ills of the dying Holger Osieck regime, as well as being criticised for perceived arrogance and a lack of faith in his younger team-mates, he absolutely refuses to call it quits.

There is a characteristic stubbornness in his dogged pursuit of a ticket to Brazil. Giving up now would be to let his detractors win. Some may point to the departures of Schwarzer and Emerton and suggest Neill would have been wise to follow their graceful example.

But whatever happens in the coming months - and the chances of Neill swaying Postecoglou are remote - no-one can question his dedication and commitment to the cause.