Upon the appointment of Stuart Pearce as manager of Team GB, the selection of players from all the home nations remains a huge talking point with only a year before the Olympics get underway.
“I’m not going into this job looking only to select English players. If at all possible, it should be made up of all the home nations.” Certainly from Pearce’s point of view he is looking to select players from not only England, but the rest of Great Britain. A stance not necessarily reciprocated by the Scottish, Welsh and Irish FA but one which will not go unnoticed at their relevant HQ’s.
The concept of a Team GB entering the London Olympics in 2012 was one which generated much talk and excitement, but at the same time showed a clear lack of solidarity between Great Britain on a footballing front.
With the Scottish and Welsh FA both feeling it could compromise their position as an independent nation, it is understandable that their players have kept quiet over the issue.
However, the statement of intent given by Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsay over their participation in the event could pave the way for many more high profile players to make themselves available for selection.
“At the moment Wales haven’t qualified for a major tournament in I don’t know how many years so it would be nice to play in one against the best countries in the world.” Bale obviously has the intention of being involved, and despite being a hugely important player for both club and country, he has now put himself in the forefront of both Pearce and the WFA’s mind.
So what position are Scottish players in?
Well the SFA have reiterated their opposition to the idea which is most important in this situation.
The Scottish Football Association represents the biggest threat to the plans of Team GB, with the chances of their opinion unlikely to change.
However, they have no right to block any call ups by the GB Olympic Team to any of their players and the decision will rest solely with the player and his club.
Also, the European Championships in 2012 have to be taken into account when any players are selected, being the second most important international footballing event on the calendar.
Again however, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been unable to qualify for this event so effectively all their players would have the ‘summer off’ and therefore be available.
Undoubtedly, the quality which could be brought together by a Team GB side could amount to a Olympic glory.
As Pearce has already stated he will not only select players from England, so there is a huge opportunity for players from the home nations to sample the biggest sporting event in the world, adding to their experience.
The question is who would be good enough to represent Team GB?
From an English perspective, despite the recent decline in quality from their youth teams, they still have an array of talent to pick from for this event.
With Pearce also the Under 21 manager, there is no one better suited to picking the best young talent they have.
The squad will be made up of 18 players who all must be born either on, or after, 1 January 1989 – but three players over this age can also be selected in the side.
This then paves the way for players such as Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Craig Bellamy and Steven Davis to be drafted in to add experience to the squad.
Fletcher is arguably the best Scottish player, but after the encouraging Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, players such as Barry Bannan, David Goodwillie and Danny Wilson could all push for a place in the squad.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsay are without a doubt the best of a golden generation of Wales players and would be certain of a call-up.
Northern Ireland’s opposition to the Team GB could be seen as redundant by 2012, with the country having no real top-class players capable of making the squad.
Pearce’s position could be seen as an enviable one, but at the same time one which carries a lot of baggage.
With near free-reign on the best young talent in the UK, he must fight against the politics of the Football Associations to ensure he selects the best Team GB possible.
As a Scottish Fan who has only witnessed his country at an international tournament once, I would have no qualms with players such as Bannan, Goodwillie, Wilson or even Fletcher getting a call-up for the GB side.
As long as FIFA stick to their view that all the home nations will remain independent for the rest of the international events, then the Olympics participation will do nothing but galvanise the UK.
So, if I was Stuart Pearce and the tournament was next week, this would be my selection for Team GB.
Allan McGregor (+21)
Chris Smalling Phil Jones Danny Wilson Kyle Walker
Aaron Ramsay Tom Cleverley
Ryan Giggs(+21) Danny Wellbeck Daniel Sturridge
Subs – Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bannan, Steven Davis(+21), Ross Barkley, Goodwillie, Rodwell, Fielding.
THINK YOU COULD DO BETTER? Get a bit of discussion and give me your Team GB below.