Great Britain Olympic Soccer Team: 2012 Roster Predictions & Analysis
As the draw for the football groups at 2012 Olympics were just made, the tournament jumps into the forefront of fans minds (although maybe temporarily for those whose countries are heading to Euro 2012).
With that said, it seams to be an appropriate opportunity to take a look at the men who will possibly be representing Team GB as the host nation of the Olympics.
There are several factors to consider when selecting an Olympic squad:
- The squad is only 18 players, smaller than most international tournaments.
- All but three of the squad must be born after January 1st 1989 (under 23's).
- Three players can be over 23 - do you select the best three, fill in needs or look at other intangibles?
- As with any squad, form and injuries also come into play.
In order to make this squad, I had to factor in which players would not be available due to the Euro's. Rather than pick who I would take to the Euros, I tried to predict a cautions squad that the new England manager may take, it is:
Hart, Carson, Green, Richards, Johnson, Terry, Dawson, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole, Baines, Parker, Barry, Milner, Johnson, Gerrard, Lampard, Walcott, Young, Rooney, Crouch, Defoe, Welbeck.
Now with those 23 players out of the way, let's look at those who should be available and at Stuart Pearce's disposal.
Goalkeeper: Ben Amos
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Unless head coach Stuart Pearce decides to use one of his over 23 spots on a goalkeeper, this could be Team Great Britain's weakest position.
All senior goalkeepers from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland's last squads were all over the age of 23.
While looking at the possibilities from the U21s, Manchester United's Ben Amos is one that stands out.
He has featured only once for United's first team, but has spent time on loan at other clubs, most recently Oldham and has represented England at all youth age groups from U16 to U21.
Goalkeeper: Grant Adam
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The 19-year-old Glasgow Rangers shot stopper is currently on loan at Airdie United.
The younger brother of Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam, Grant has been tipped as a goalkeeper of the future for Scotland and could be given the honor of representing Team GB in this summer's Olympics.
Defender: Kyle Walker
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Kyle Walker's excellent season for Spurs saw him named the Premier League's Young Player of the Year and saw himself called up to the England squad, winning two caps so far.
Walker has more than a good chance of making the England squad for the Euros, but if he misses out, the number 2 shirt for Team Great Britain will be waiting for him.
Defender: Phil Jones
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Jones, still just 20 years old, has featured in 36 games for Manchester United this season in four different positions and is lauded as a possible future captain of England.
Right now, he has a chance of making the England squad for the Euros, but if he is edged out by more experienced players, his summer will be spent representing Team GB.
Defender: Chris Smalling
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The 22 year old has been in fine form for Manchester United this season and has won three England caps as a result.
His form and ability to play either right or center back may see him claim an England spot for the Euros. If not, a spot on the England team will be waiting for him.
Defender: Rio Ferdinand
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Terry, Cahill, Dawson, Jagielka, Lescott, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand.
One thing is for sure, not all of these players are going to be selected for England at Euro 2012.
As the season wears on, it looks increasingly likely that Rio may be one of those players that miss out on a call up. If so, is there a more experienced central defender available for the Olympic squad?
Granted, he is on the downside of his career and has even hinted at retiring at the end of the season. But you don't win 81 England caps and captain your country if you don't have ability. His ability, experience and possibility of teaming up with fellow Manchester United teammates Jones and Smalling could make him a great addition as an over 23 player.
Defender: Kieran Gibbs
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Gibbs has emerged as Arsenal's starting left back and looks like a future England regular with two caps already to his name.
Ashley Cole is a lock for the England left back spot and with Leighton Baines having more experience, Gibbs is more likely to be featuring for Team GB this summer.
Defender: Martin Kelly
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The 21 year old defender may be lacking in senior footballing experience with only 22 appearances for Liverpool.
Yet his talent and potential is undeniable and he has ousted England regular Glen Johnson as the starting right back at Liverpool recently.
His International experience includes six caps and three goals for the England U21s and he would add some talented depth the the Great Britain back line.
Midfield: David Beckham
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Anyone with only a fleeting knowledge of Team GB will know that the biggest talking point is whether or not David Beckham should be included.
Yes, David Beckham, the biggest celebrity athlete on the planet (alongside Tiger Woods), the ambassador who helped bring the Olympics to Britain, the most capped England outfield player and current Major League Soccer champion.
Those against will say he is too old, not on form, playing in an inferior league, not as worthy as some younger players.
I am not one of those people.
Those who follow MLS (as I do) will tell you that last season was the best he has had during his 5 years in the league. His passing, crossing and free kicks are still deadly and anyone who has not yet seen his 25 yard strike against Portland two weeks ago should do themselves a favor and look it up.
Add to this the intangibles, the respect he holds among his peers, his experience as an international captain. All of these would be a huge addition to a young squad.
He is an automatic pick in the squad and as captain for me.
Midfield: Gareth Bale
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Last season's Premier League Player of the Year, in this season's Team of the Year, Bale is arguably the best around midfielder in all of Britain and should be the first name penciled into the squad.
The only factor that could possible see his exclusion would be the Welsh FA stepping in and objecting.
FIFA has guaranteed there will be no sanctions for any players from the home nations representing Great Britain, and Bale has expressed his desire to play. He is a great player who can play three different positions, as well as under the age of 23.
See you there Gareth!
Midfield: Aaron Ramsey
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The captain of the Welsh national team faces the same possible backlash as Gareth Bale from the Welsh FA who somehow, still puzzlingly seem to oppose its players playing in the Olympics.
That aside, Ramsey has made a fine comeback since his leg fracture in 2010 and the late Gary Speed's decision to make him the youngest captain in Welsh history demonstrates what a talented and levelheaded young man Ramsey is.
Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
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Oxlade-Chamberlain is still an outside bet to make the England squad for the Euro's, but if a conservative and experienced squad is favored to exciting youngsters, it could be very good news for Team GB.
He has been exciting Arsenal fans this season with his explosive pace and delivery and has already made himself a firm crowd favorite at the Emirates.
Midfielder: James Forrest
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Forrest has emerged as a starting winger for Celtic over the last two season and has already clocked up over 50 appearances despite being just 20 years old.
His performances for Celtic have seen him win five international caps for Scotland so far and have seen him included in the shortlist for the Olympic squad.
Midfield: Jack Rodwell
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The 21-year-old midfielder has represented England from the U16 level all the way up to the national team. He could now be ready to add Great Britain to his representative honors.
Rodwell has been in fine form for Everton this season and would add strong midfield depth to Team GB.
Midfield: Jordan Henderson
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Liverpool raised eyebrows when the paid an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £20 million, to buy Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.
Since then he has featured heavily for the Reds, making over 33 appearances so far this season.
With a full England cap behind him and experience captaining the England U21s, he looks a good bet to make the Olympic squad this summer.
Forward: Andy Carroll
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Carroll qualifies as an U23 player by just six days and given the recent form of Peter Crouch, there is a good chance that he will miss out on the Euros.
Granted, this season has not exactly been a golden one for Carroll, but he has been scoring more goals recently.
Additionally, are there many more forwards with his size, strength and top level experience who are under the age of 23?
Didn't think so...
Forward: Craig Bellamy
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Say what you like about Craig Bellamy, there's one thing you can't deny – his ability to perform and score goals wherever he has played.
165 total career goals, 19 at international level and 9 in all competitions for a struggling Liverpool team this season.
He is likely to be the best and most experienced over 23 forward available for the Olympics, so why not?
Forward: Daniel Sturridge
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Having featured in recent England squads and picking up two caps, there is a good chance Sturridge will make the Euros.
However, I had him being edged out by Danny Welbeck which is why I have him included here.
12 goals for Chelsea this season, an explosive young talent who falls into the U23 criteria.
A certainty for the squad if available.
Other over 23 Possibilities: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Chris Brunt & Joe Cole
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This squad already has Ferdinand, Beckham and Bellamy as over 23 players, but else could be included?
Darren Fletcher is unlikely to be fit so he is ruled out.
Joe Cole has fallen off the radar a little while spending the season on loan in France with Lille, but no one can deny his abilities that have seen him win 56 caps throughout his career.
Ryan Giggs is the most decorated player in the history of the Premier League, a legend of the game who has never had the opportunity to play in a major international tournament.
At this point in his career, would this be a sentimental pick? Probably. But his stature among his peers and experience would be a benefit to the squad.
Paul Scholes' return from retirement raised some eyebrows. Some thought Man United were desperate. But the way United turned around their fortunes upon his return is undeniable. So much so that he came in third in the FWA Player of the Year award.
As no Northern Ireland players have made this squad so far, their most likely candidate is Chris Brunt who has been a solid performer in the Premier League since he joined West Brom from Sheffield Wednesday in 2007.