There may be all kinds of controversy over the prospect of a Great Britain team participating in the London 2012 Olympics, but whether the various national football associations like it or not, it’s happening.
Although the Football Associations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not back the Team GB effort, they have not banned any player from joining manager Stuart Pearce’s squad if they want to.
Here’s how the perfect Team GB Olympic Football squad should look like.
Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon (Scotland)
Seeing as Stuart Pearce is allowed to bring 3 players who are over the age of 23, one of those choices should be Gordon in order to give the team a steady pair of experienced hands that won’t flap under pressure.
Left Back: Gareth Bale (Wales)
Once described by Spanish newspaper El Mundo as “combining the height and build of an 800-metre runner like Steve Ovett with the acceleration and directness of a rugby winger like Bryan Habana.” Gareth Bale is one of the most impressive young defenders around.
Centre Back: Phil Jones (England)
With an international career at the age of 19 that consists of caps for the England under-19, under-21 and first teams, Phil Jones is already a defending force to be reckoned with.
Centre Back: Chris Smalling (England)
Another defender of exceptional calibre to have represented England at various levels, Chris is Smalling in name but great in stature.
Right Back: Kyle Walker (England)
Rounding off the back four we have Kyle Walker, a key player whose time at Aston Villa and Tottenham has shaped him into a thoroughly capable and quick-witted defender who would complement the styles of Smalling, Jones and Bale.
Left Midfield: Ryan Giggs (Wales)
A much speculated choice. Ryan Giggs is in a similar position to David Beckham in that they are both seasoned veterans of the highest order (and both have suffered some controversial media attention).
Ryan Giggs is renowned for his solidly reliable ability to work wonders in midfield. Along with Beckham, the pair of them would dominate midfield and open up goal scoring opportunities aplenty.
Centre Midfield: Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
After his exceptional 2007-08 season with Cardiff City, Ramsey was catapulted into the limelight as one of Europe’s most sought-after young players. Despite his double leg break last year, he has shown this year that he’s lost none of his physical and mental strength both on and off the ball.
Centre Midfield: Jack Wilshere (England)
Another 19-year-old star in the making, Wilshere has already been rightly praised by England manager Fabio Capello for his performance during his first proper full England debut against Denmark in February this year.
Adaptable, quick-thinking and with everything to prove, Wilshere would strengthen the midfielder line-up admirably.
Right Midfield: David Beckham (England)
Old Golden Balls himself! There have already been hints that David Beckham is keen to be involved in the Team Great Britain Olympic effort. England manager Fabio Capello hinted as much only two days ago when he said that he believed Beckham could feature as part of the team.
With his monumental wealth of international experience, determination, inspiring presence and sheer ability in set pieces and goal scoring, how could Stuart Pearce refuse if Becks declared an interest to play?
Centre Forward: Danny Welbeck (England)
Another of Stuart Pearce’s U21 stalwarts, Welbeck has well and truly cut his teeth under Manchester United which has given him a solid range of international and European experience.
With his height, speed and controlled aggression, Welback is dynamic enough to make the most of the opportunities that would be fed through to him by the strong midfield.
Centre Forward: Daniel Sturridge (England)
Having already gelled with Danny Welbeck’s style in the England U21 squad, Sturridge has the pace, sure feet and powerful long shots to complete Team GB’s attacking element.
RB – Chris Gunter (WAL)
CM – Charlie Adam (SCO)
CM – Josh McEachran (ENG)
CM – Joe Allen (WAL)
CM – Barry Bannan (SCO)
RM – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ENG)
CF – Kyle Lafferty (NI)
Note: While the starting 11 isn’t as diverse as we’d like, with England getting the lion’s share, the choices have been made with practicality first and foremost.
A number of players we’d dearly like to include will unfortunately be over the age threshold of 23 by the time the London 2012 Olympics roll around. Added to the high level of international experience held by players in the England U21 and U19 squads, this has led to fewer non-English players added than we’d have preferred.
However, with the Olympics rapidly approaching, the opportunity to join Team GB will doubtlessly attract great players from all four countries, meaning that Stuart Pearce could throw out some serious surprises next year.