Zola: Luc's not out yet

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West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola remains hopeful of convincing defender Lucas Neill to sign a new deal with the club.

The Australia international's contract at Upton Park expired at the end of last month and he did not fly to Beijing with the Hammers for this week's Barclays Asia Trophy, fuelling speculation that his future lies elsewhere.

But Zola sees Neill as a key player for West Ham and said: "Lucas Neill is talking with the club. We need obviously to have some negotiations but I am hoping that he is going to join us as soon as possible."

He had previously rejected a fresh offer from West Ham when they are believed to have offered the 31-year-old reduced terms to remain at the club.

Mark Hughes, who previously worked with Neill at Blackburn, has been linked with a bid to take the player to Manchester City, while reports also claim Galatasaray are keen to reunite him with Socceroos team-mate Harry Kewell.

"I know his name has been linked to other clubs," Zola added. "Last time I spoke to the player he told me that if anything could happen he would call me first. So far he has not called me so I assume he is not yet going anywhere.

"He was an important player last year and our aim this year is to work to improve how we did last season and we hope that he will make his decision."

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Manchester City
Blackburn Rovers
Mark Hughes
Premier League
Lucas Neill
Harry Kewell
Gianfranco Zola
Mark Hughes
West Ham United

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