Neill leading from the back

Lucas Neill's return to Blackburn Rovers this weekend will again put the West Ham United captain in the spotlight - and Tony Gale has no doubts he will rise to the challenge.

Having moved to east London in January, the defender went back to Ewood Park last March with his new side desperate for a win. In an intense atmosphere, Neill more than played his part in a 2-1 victory - the first of seven wins in the final nine games as survival was secured. Speaking to WHUTV, Gale paid tribute to the determined No2 who was "a sad loss for Blackburn but a big gain for West Ham United".

The former centre-back, who also played for both clubs, added: "We got ourselves a good right-back and a good captain. He played up there last season and got a little bit of a tough time from the Blackburn supporters but when you have a look at his time in the Blackburn colours he was a good player. Mark Hughes was really sad when he left. He was one of the players he based his side around."

Neill made eleven appearances for Alan Curbishley last season and, having returned to full fitness, has established himself in a strong back five this campaign - his commitment underlined by the bloody nose he got in last week's spirited display at Chelsea.

Gale said: "Since he has had a few games under his belt, I think he has got better and better. He again was one of the main reasons why I thought we stayed up last season. We didn't have many men in the side and I thought he was instrumental."

  • Log on or register with WHUTV now to hear more from Galey on the trip to Blackburn while you can also look forward to full live commentary from Ewood Park. Check out WHUTV on Friday for all the pre-match press conference news and views.