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By ESPN Staff

Neill pens deal with Japanese club

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill says signing with Japanese side Omiya Ardija is the next step in his World Cup strategy, after ending his long search for a new club on Sunday.

Neill arrived in Japan on Thursday to meet the J-League club and undergo a medical, before penning a deal for the remainder of the season.

The contract, however, will only take him through to December and could leave Neill in limbo again just six months out from the World Cup in June - possibly opening the door to another A-League stint.

Before then however, Neill has set his sights on helping fifth-placed Omiya secure some silverware.

"I am delighted to have reached an agreement with Omiya Ardija," Neill said on Sunday.

"The J-League is a strong competition as we have seen from the results of the Japanese national team.

"Until a few weeks ago, Omiya Ardija were leading the competition and still have a genuine shot at the J-League title and Asian Champions League qualification.

"I have been working to a specific strategy in the lead up to next year's World Cup and this represents the next step."

The 35-year-old looks set to play as early as next weekend with a club official confirming he's likely to face rivals Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday.

Neill would be a welcome boost in defence as the side attempt to rebound from six straight losses in which they conceded 14 goals.

The former Blackburn, West Ham and Galatasaray defender joins fellow Socceroo Josh Kennedy, who plays for Nagoya Grampus, in Japan.

Neill has been without a club since his 10-game stint with A-League side Sydney FC was cut short by injury last season.

Neill played just three games with the Sky Blues, his last a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney in late March.

He led the Socceroos to another World Cup finals appearance in June and it was his performance in Australia's 1-1 draw with Japan in Saitama, the city where his new club is based, that looks to have turned heads in the J-League.

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck last month sent a clear message to the captain that his spot in the squad was in jeopardy should he not shore up a deal soon.

Osieck revealed the veteran had not been considered for the recent East Asian Cup squad because he was in the United States negotiating with two Major League Soccer franchises, from which no deal transpired.

Omiya are fifth in Japan's top flight but after losing five games on the trot sacked coach Zdenko Verdenik last week before caretaker Takeyuki Okamoto took charge for the most recent defeat, 2-1 to Sagan Tosu on Saturday.


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