Neill set for Australia challenge

Lucas Neill has been in action for Australia from 8.30am British time this morning.

The West Ham United captain arrived in Melbourne on Monday, having followed a special routine to minimise the effects of jet-lag, devised by the Football Federation of Australia medical staff. The match, which kicked off at 7.30pm local time, against Qatar is the Socceroos opening 2010 World Cup qualifier.

Acknowledging before he left that "this is going to be a very tough week for me", Neill will be straight back on a plane to England after the match to prepare for Saturday's Premier League visit of Birmingham City. "Physically it is going to be tough but with the break in matches that follows I know I will have a chance to recuperate.

"My desire to want to qualify for the World Cup coupled with the FIFA ruling means it's a game I must attend. However, I realise this is a very important time for me and the West Ham team as every win is crucial to achieving our European dream so I wish the timing could have been better.

Closer to home, Matthew Upson is with Fabio Capello's first squad for the Wembley friendly against Switzerland and George McCartney will hope to be involved when Bulgaria travel to Belfast. However, the returning Craig Bellamy and Danny Gabbidon were pulled out of the Wales squad against Norway in Wrexham.