Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has told Watford’s Lucas Neill that he will not be part of the Socceroos’ 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup.
The 36-year-old, who has been capped 96 times by his country, joined the Hornets on February 24. First-team football was his priority as he looked to secure a place at a third World Cup.
However, he played just six minutes for the club before being loaned to Doncaster Rovers at the end of March.
The defender went on to make four appearances for Rovers but Postecoglou says a lack of regular first-team football meant Neill, who captained Australia during their qualification campaign, will not be included in the provisional squad.
He said: "In the end I just had to make a decision not so much about the recent history but the last six months in terms of form and fitness.
"There just wasn't enough evidence there for me to say he'd be able to hold up in a World Cup. It was a combination of a lack of regular football and the little niggles he got that made the decision for me.
"I had a conversation with Lucas regarding the World Cup squad and before I announced the 30-man squad next week I thought it was important for me to speak to him directly.
"I informed him that he hasn't made the 30, from my perspective paying due respect to the fact that he's been the captain for six years and the captain of the World Cup campaign so far.
"It was difficult, he's worked damn hard to get himself ready and available. He's shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup.
"You can see why he's played for his country as many times as he has and why he was a leader, he's gone down fighting."
Postecoglou added: "Certainly from my perspective, if post-Christmas, from January onwards, if he'd had four months of football under his belt, I guess a different decision would have been made."