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By ESPN Staff

Neill close to Melbourne Heart deal

Australian defender Lucas Neill is reportedly close to signing a deal with A-League club Melbourne Heart in a bid to prolong his international career.

Neill, 34, was released from Al Wasl after two years in the United Arab Emirates and began talks with Heart earlier in the week, coach John Aloisi confirmed.

The Socceroos captain has been urged to find regular football ahead of this year's crucial World Cup qualifiers and he could be crucial for Heart as they look to shore up their defensive line leading into the finals series.

Although a deal is yet to be reached, Aloisi has confirmed the club's interest in Neill and is hopeful of coming to an agreement in the coming days.

"I had a chat to Lucas a couple of days ago to see where he was at football-wise, what he wanted out of the rest of the season - and he wants to play football," he said. "He wants to show he still has a good level of playing, which I believe he has.

"He's still the national team captain and he wants to win games. That's great for us because we want to make finals and if we make finals we've got every chance of going on to challenge and win something."

While Neill has failed to reach the heights of his Blackburn career since departing Ewood Park, Aloisi believes his former team-mate has always maintained a high standard that makes him an attractive signing.

"He's never really had any major issues injury-wise. He's a fit guy," Aloisi said. "He wants to hurry up and start playing because there's a game in March for the national team and he wants to be involved in that."


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