Ed Jackson July 27, 2012
Western Sydney Wanderers appear unlikely to make a move for Lucas Neill after coach Tony Popovic claimed the Socceroos captain wasn't on his radar.
Neill, a western Sydney product, is currently unattached after being released by United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira last month.
But Popovic, who saw his new team claim a 5-0 win over Nepean in its opening pre-season friendly on Wednesday night, was unequivocal when asked if the 34-year-old defender was a target.
''I haven't had any discussions about Lucas at all,'' Popovic said.
While the club now has a major sponsor and also yesterday announced a deal that made Parramatta Stadium its home ground for the next five years, there are still just nine players signed to the Wanderers.
But Popovic said any concerns the team would be under-prepared for its inaugural A-League campaign were unfounded.
''Obviously we're speaking to players daily,'' the former Socceroo said.
''It's on course for us. I've said all along that come the first game we'll have a squad that's ready to play.''
Popovic said the club would play ''two or three'' pre-season matches against fellow A-League teams before the new campaign kicked off in the first week of October, but dates were yet to be confirmed.
One player who has put his case forward for a contract is former Sydney FC player Joey Gibbs, who scored four goals in the friendly against Nepean.
''He did very well last night. Four goals is four goals, doesn't matter where you score them or who it's against,'' Popovic said of the 20-year-old. ''We've still got to assess a few other players as well and make sure we make the right decision but he obviously hasn't done himself any harm with that performance.'' AAP