Neill no certainty for Watford start

Any hopes of Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill being rushed into the Watford line-up this weekend may be premature.

Hornets’ manager Beppe Sannino has cast doubt on the veteran Aussie starting against Blackpool on Saturday, saying it would be disrespectful to the club’s other defenders.

Neill is in a race against time to get some competitive football under his belt and stay in contention for Australia’s World Cup squad after being overlooked for the friendly against Ecuador in London.

The 35-year-old signed a short-term deal with the Championship outfit a day before Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou announced the 23-man squad for next week’s hit out but it was not enough to retain his place.

Sannino told the Watford Observer the Championship club had a lot of choice in its defensive ranks despite the suspension of Joel Ekstrand.

“Tommie Hoban, Essaïd Belkalem, Lloyd Doyley and Neill could all replace Joel,” the Italian said.

“We had the opportunity to sign Lucas Neill but I am not obliged to use him in the next game. I’m looking at the next two months but he will help with his professionalism and experience.

“If Lucas Neill goes straight on to the pitch this would be a lack of respect to the players who did very well for five matches.

“We did badly at Bolton but that doesn’t mean the first player that arrives goes straight in the team.

“Over the next two months Lucas will help Watford, I am sure.”