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COMMENT: Acquisition of Lucas Neill was a gamble worth taking for Watford
Watford's latest acquisition has divided opinion.
Lucas Neill's age and the fact the 35-year-old has played in the Japanese, UAE and Australian leagues for the last three years has been highlighted as a potential criticism. But the player insists the standard in Japan and UAE is high and he had previously spent six weeks training with Blackburn Rovers so his fitness should be close to the level needed.
Watford's squad has lacked leaders and characters this season, with Fitz Hall only re-signing recently and Daniel Tozser not joining until a few weeks ago.
In Neill, they have a player who was once a target for Liverpool, played in the Europa League with Galatasaray and has 96 caps for Australia, who he captains.
He is vastly experienced and a natural leader. Traits which have been missing at London Colney and Vicarage Road.
The coaching staff have been impressed with not only Neill's performances in training but also the way he conducts himself around their London Colney base.
Hall and Joel Ekstrand's injuries, and a desire not to rush Tommie Hoban's recovery, were contributing factors to Neill's arrival as an option at centre half.
He qualifies as a home-grown player and we understand he is on a very modest wage with performance incentives based around reaching the play-offs.
Neill is highly motivated as his Australia manager has told him he must play if he wants to feature in his third World Cup this summer.
So if he shows the quality of yesteryear then the Hornets have a very good acquisition on their hands. If he doesn't then hopefully he will still be a positive impact around the dressing room. It was a gamble worth taking.
The signing also indicates the Hornets have not given up on reaching the play-offs.
- There will be an interview with Neill uploaded tonight and a comment piece on the club's current recruitment policy and their technical director Gian Luca Nani this afternoon.