Uniting nations on and off the pitch remains the greatest challenge for Team GB
Wednesday 30 November 2011
It’s safe to say that when Team GB finally takes shape at the London Olympics that it will not be the football equivalent of rugby’s British Lions. Rather than the best of the best, Team GB is more likely to be a ragtag bunch, consisting of Fabio Capello’s cast off’s, veterans and a smattering of players from the ‘smaller’ nations.
There has been so much political mudslinging thus far that very little time and thought has yet to be devoted to the players that are likely to be involved. Stuart Pearce is believed to have sent letters to a long list of 50 players that are under consideration, this will eventually be whittled down to eighteen, with the option of selecting three players over the age limit of 23.
Having decided to undertake the exercise myself, I discovered some of the conundrums that Pearce will have to contend with in the coming months. Firstly, I’ve made the assumption that the disparate football associations will settle their differences by the time the event arrives. Also, anyone selected for the European Championships is very unlikely to be selected - in 2008, only the Netherlands and Italy appeared in both tournaments and both squads were completely different.
Therefore, it will not be possible to predict the eventual Olympic squad until Capello has made his selection, and, as a result, all available options have been considered. Plus, I believe David Beckham’s inclusion is a certainty - ticket sales need the sort of boost that only his box office appeal can provide, but since my selection is based on current ability he will not feature.
Team GB has the luxury of two excellent goalkeepers in Joe Hart and Wayne Hennessey. Unfortunately, both will be 25 when the Olympics take place, so I have used up two of my senior selections in this position, as the under-23 alternatives are less than inspiring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are no brainers, I have also opted for Jonny Evans as my sole Northern Irish representative and other senior selection, although I wouldn’t relish informing Sir Alex Ferguson that I have designs on three of his pool of defenders ahead of a new season. Kyle Walker, Neil Taylor and Kieran Gibbs complete the defence.
Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshire are in, I’m sure Arsene Wenger won’t mind me borrowing his central midfield for the summer. Theo Walcott too, who will only turn 23 in March. Jack Rodwell and Gareth Bale would also be joined by Barry Bannan.
Andy Carroll is unlikely to be selected by Capello, unless there is a sharp upturn in his current form, and his inclusion is too tempting to resist, while Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck would also be obvious choices. I have also opted for Huddersfield’s goal machine Jordan Rhodes. Still only 21, the Scottish international will be 22 and possibly at a bigger club in August.
The likes of Joe Allen, Tom Cleverley, Martin Kelly, Jordan Henderson, Connor Wickham and Charlie Adam would all miss out initially, but are likely to be drafted in once Fabio Capello has shown his hand. Team GB has been compromised at every turn and will be dealt a further blow by the European Championships squad selection, which is a shame because a full strength squad could have been formidable.
My selection - Hart, Hennessey; Jones, Walker, Evans, Smalling, Taylor, Gibbs; Bale, Walcott, Bannan, Rodwell, Ramsey, Wilshire; Carroll, Sturridge, Rhodes, Welbeck
Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.