Neill to lead Socceroos against NZ, Serbia

by AAP on May 24, 2011

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Despite missing the latter part of the Turkish season with a groin injury, captain Lucas Neill has been named in a 23-man Socceroos squad for upcoming home friendlies against New Zealand and Serbia.

Neill, who plays his club soccer for Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray, is joined in the squad by Brett Emerton, who scored a crucial goal for Blackburn last weekend as they avoided relegation from the English Premier League.

But fellow top-liners Tim Cahill, David Carney, Harry Kewell and Mark Schwarzer were unavailable for selection due to injury concerns.

The squad includes 12 players who were involved in the recent 2-1 win over Germany in Monchengladbach.

Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson has been rewarded for his performances in the AFC Champions League with his first selection under Holger Osieck.

With Schwarzer unavailable, Adam Federici, Mitchell Langerak and Nathan Coe will fight it out for the starting goalkeeper's spot.

Australia play New Zealand in Adelaide on June 5 and Serbia in Melbourne on June 7.

Osieck told reporters in Sydney the absence of some of the biggest Socceroos names was due to a mix of injury and workload concerns.

"Obviously we are at the stage of the season with the European-based players that's very difficult, after a long and very intense season," he said.

"It's great to be able to bring some of these others guys in there. Hopefully they will meet our expectations."

The coach also indicated A-League star Thompson had been on his radar for a long time.

"He was in contention for the Asian Cup in Qatar but then he got his injury," he said.

"We all know his quality. He is a very useful player and it's good to have him."

Australia: Alex Brosque, Nathan Coe, Brett Emerton, Adam Federici, Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Josh Kennedy, Neil Kilkenny, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak, Jon McKain, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Lucas Neill, Sasa Ognenovski, Matthew Spiranovic, Archie Thompson, James Troisi, Carl Valeri, Dario Vidosic, Rhys Williams, Luke Wilkshire, Michael Zullo.