Date:Friday October 6 2006
Any lingering hopes Blackburn Rovers fans might have held out for the club being able to retain the services of Lucas Neill beyond his contract at least seem to be disappearing.
Currently away on International duty with Australia the current Rovers captain has reaffirmed his previous intentions on wanting to leave the club. When speaking at in a press conference in Australia in which he was unveiled as the Aussie captain for their upcoming match with Paraguay Neill said:
"I was linked to Liverpool most famously, and no player in their right mind would not want the opportunity to go to a club like that with so much history and prestige.
"The deal that was presented to the club at the time from Liverpool was not in Blackburn's best interests, therefore I didn't have a say and I didn't move on."
It was no secret that Neill was disappointed in not gaining the move he so desired to Anfield but he has been very professional in his attitude to Rovers since then which is high commendable.
He would go on to reiterate his desire to leave the club however, be this in January when the transfer window re-opens or in the summer when he can walk away for free:
"It's unfortunate for my career that it didn't go that way, but as a professional I have to move on.
"But now I'm hopefully in just as good a position when those opportunities present themselves again in January, or if not then, I'll get a free transfer in June."
Having been given the Australian captaincy as a result of Newcastle United's Craig Moore's no show (the defender is said to have missed his flight to Brisbane, therefore missing a training session so he has been handed a one match ban by Aussie coach Graham Arnold) Neill would say this of his selection as national captain:
"It's a dream come true ... and I will be fighting hard not to give the armband back."
So there you have it, the situation seems to have not changed at all, be it agent influence or whatever, no extended UEFA Cup run, high League position etc. seems enough for Neill to remain at Ewood Park, his mind is made up that his career is best suited with another club, which I'm sure, as painful as it is to hear most people can understand...
Neill will continue to give his all for Rovers, and although in light of these latest comments, and what we already knew many will want him out in January I'm sure that Mark Hughes will fight to retain his service until the end of the season, unless he gets a VERY good offer in January.
Although he'll be missed I still feel Rovers have full-back options available. If Brett Emerton is retained at right-back Rovers still have plenty of left sided options without having to buy, they have Michael Gray (who I think will leave in the summer anyway though), James McEveley, Andy Taylor, Michael Kane and another youngster in Swedish star Martin Olsson.
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Date:Friday October 6 2006
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