Lucas preparing for Asian Cup campaign

Lucas Neill will be one notable absentee when West Ham United players return to pre-season training at Chadwell Heath on Monday.

The Hammers right-back is currently back home in Australia preparing with his international team-mates for the Asian Cup tournament, which kicks off in south-east Asia next week.

The Socceroos make their first appearance in the continental championship after moving into the Asian confederation at the start of last year and go into the competition as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

However, Lucas insists that they won't have a comfortable ride as they go up against the best of Asian football, including defending champions Japan.

"I wouldn't say we're the favourites," he says. "I would say we're one of the stronger teams.

"Japan are obviously favourites because they're more experienced at this level and in this environment and we're coming here trying to challenge teams such as them.

"So we have to approach it with a different mentality but we've still got a lot to prove because we're the new kids on the block."

Australia face Oman on July 8, Iraq on July 13 and Thailand on July 16 in their group matches and will qualify for the next phase by finishing in the top two.

The final will be held in Indonesia on July 29.