BLACKBURN boss Graeme Souness is closing in on Millwall midfielder Lucas Neill.

The 23-year-old Australian international was at Brockhall today to begin a week-long trial after being slapped on the transfer-list following a bust up with Lions boss Mark McGhee.

And Ewood chief Souness could be ready to pounce if he impresses over the next few days after being tipped off about his ability by former Rovers boss Ray Harford.

"Lucas will be spending the next few days with us on trial with a view to a permanent deal," said Souness.

"He comes highly-recommended by Ray Harford and a number of other contacts in the game have also spoken to me about him.

"We've been looking for a right-sided midfielder for a while and he could fit the bill.

"He's played for both the Australian national team and the Australian Olympic team.

"But he's had a fall-out with Millwall for whatever reason so we are taking the chance to have a closer look at him.

"And if he turns out to be as good as what we've heard about him then he could turn out to be just what we're looking for."

Neill's form for Millwall during last season's successful Second Division promotion campaign attracted interest from a posse of clubs over the summer with the likes of Middlesbrough and Sunderland said to be monitoring his situation.

However, Rovers boss Souness has jumped to the head of the queue after the player handed in a written transfer request at the weekend.

And Lions boss McGhee now appears to be resigned to losing the club's longest serving player.

"Lucas has, in reality, been seeking a move from the time of my arrival last September, but now it's officially on the table," said McGhee.

"It would obviously be in our best interests to get a fee for Lucas now rather than see him go for nothing in the summer."

The 23-year-old made his debut for the club against Luton in 1996 after signing on a free transfer in November 1995.

And he quickly became a fans favourite after a number of eye-catching displays for the Lions, scoring 12 goals in 148 appearances before the start of this season.

His arrival on trial, however, places further question marks over the future of Jason McAteer.

The Republic of Ireland international became a national hero at the weekend after scoring the goal which took the Republic of Ireland to within touching distance of next summer's World Cup.

But Souness today insisted that performance will not alter his judgement of the player, who has failed to start a Rovers game in five months.

"I don't make judgements of players based on what they do for their national teams, I make a judgement on what they do everyday for us in training," said Souness.