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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 14 hours ago
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Nov 17, 2013

I will justify being captain, says Neill

Lucas Neill says he has faith in his ability to justify a short-term extension of his reign as Socceroos captain.

Neill will lead Australia for a record 61st time on Tuesday night in a friendly against Costa Rica, having kept the captaincy despite calls for his exit.

But new coach Ange Postecoglou has not guaranteed Neill will keep the leadership beyond the Sydney fixture.

"They are all one-offs - who is guaranteed about being around next time in any position?," Postecoglou told reporters on Monday.

Neill will become Australia's longest-serving captain, surpassing the 60 captaincy caps of 1970s leader Peter Wilson.

"I believe in myself," Neill told reporters. "Football has to do the talking.

"Right now, there is nothing else I want to concentrate on other than tomorrow night because it's vital for the manager to get off to a good start, and it's vital for me.

"I have to perform and perform well and justify my selection.

"From there, we can start looking at the future."

The 35-year-old defender said he understood the pressure to perform.

"I have everything to prove - I always do," Neill said.

"I have been a professional footballer since I was 17 so I have known that week-in, week-out ... you have to perform at training; you have to perform every time you get picked.

"So none of this is new to me.

"Probably because of the change (of coach), there has been a lot of hype and it's probably best left unsaid now, and we get on with concentrating on what is most important, and that is the football tomorrow."

Postecoglou said he never seriously considered ending Neill's tenure as captain.

"I know it has been a fascination in terms of the decision but, to be honest, there are more important things and priorities for us at the moment," Postecoglou said.

"My focus is to get this whole group up and running. So the individual things within that, such as the captaincy ... it hasn't really taken up a lot of time of my thoughts.

"With Lucas starting tomorrow night, it was pretty logical. There wasn't a decision to be made as far as I was concerned."

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