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Lucas Neill suffers Australia set-back after being left out of Socceroos squad
10:46am Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Sport
New Watford signing Lucas Neill has been left out of the latest Australia squad due to his lack of game time but the Socceroos manager has left the door open to his captain.
Reaching this summer's World Cup and next year's Asian Cup is a huge motivation for Neill but despite being his country's captain, the fact he hasn't played a competitive game since the Aussies' last match in November meant his omission for next Thursday's game with Ecuador, which will take place at The Den, appeared inevitable.
Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou said: "The one thing I won't waver on is that the players need to be playing regular football. He [Neill], and there are some others in the same boat who haven't been playing regular football, weren't considered for this one [squad].
"But between now and when the 30-man squad needs to be named there is plenty of time for all players to show the form that is needed and play regular football.
"I think the lessons of the past show that you can't take players into a World Cup, regardless of age and experience, who are under done and we certainly won't be doing that for this World Cup."
Postecoglou did add: "There are also a few players who are very much part of my thinking and plans for the World Cup who are not playing and I was pretty mindful of not calling up anyone who was not going to play some significant game time.
"Their club form going forward will be a big indicator of that and players still have an opportunity to get back into the squad."
However, Postecoglou is also keen to develop a new so-called 'golden generation' with several of his key players approaching the final stages of their career.
He said: "The squad to face Ecuador represents the first steps in what I believe is the building of the next golden generation for Australian football, acknowledging there is a need to balance experimentation and experience to achieve this.
"The Ecuador match gives this group of players an opportunity to stake a claim for the World Cup. They have been rewarded for playing consistent and strong football and shows that age and limited international experience are not barriers to opportunity."
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