If Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill is without a club come March, he’ll be risking his World Cup spot warns coach Ange Postecoglou.
Neill is likely to be club-less again just six months out from the World Cup after flying back to Australia from his Japanese side on Tuesday, citing family reasons for the sudden exit.
The 35-year-old defender is contracted to J-League team Omiya Ardija until the conclusion of the current season, which wraps up this weekend.
He was an unused substitute for the 14th-placed side’s last two games and looks unlikely to get his contract renewed.
Postecoglou plans to settle on his extended World Cup squad in April.
The next international friendly for the Socceroos in March will be the last chance players get to impress the coach.
And while Postecoglou says he’s not worried about Neill just yet, should the skipper not have club by March he won’t be considered for selection.
“I’m not concerned at this stage. We’ll just wait and see, he might get himself a club,” Postecoglou told AAP on Friday.
“I’ve said all along that the key thing will be form and fitness every time I select a squad, and March is still a few months away.
“I’d be concerned if nothing’s happened by March but there’s still plenty of time between now and then.”
Neill had a 10-game stint with Sydney FC before joining Omiya in August.
Of the 10 games he only managed three.
He recently said he had “unfinished business” in the A-League and would be open to a return.
But Postecoglou says it doesn’t matter where Neill ends up, so long as he’s playing regular first-team football.
“It’s up to the individual to make the best decisions for their career and to play somewhere where they think gives them the best opportunity to get selected in the squad, whether that’s Australia or not,” he said.
“As long as they’re playing regularly and playing well, they give themselves the chance to be selected.”