Team GB football team announced - but no Scots included
STUART Pearce finally named his Team GB football squad at Wembley today – devoid of any Scots or Northern Irish – and insisted his selections were not influenced by players’ nationalities. He also said he would never have taken the manager’s job if it meant being forced to select former England captain David Beckham.
The make-up of Pearce’s 18-man squad will, however, come as a major relief to the Scottish Football Association, which remained steadfastly opposed to the inclusion of any of its players, as it feared a hybrid British side could threaten the country’s fooball status and priveleges within governing body Fifa.
While a number of Scottish players expressed their enthusiasm for playing for Team GB, Wolves forward Steven Fletcher and Scotland Under-21 striker Jordan Rhodes were believed to be the two most likely to earn a place in Pearce’s squad.
However, both have missed the final cut and spared the SFA the potential embarrassment of its players defying its wishes.
Nevertheless, two Scots – Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke – were included in the women’s squad named last week and are expected to play at the Games.
Five of Pearce’s picks are not English – all of those Welsh – while, as expected, there was no place for Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Beckham, though he remains on the standby list.
England Under-21s head coach Pearce says his decisions were made on football grounds and is comfortable he has selected the strongest squad available in a bid to deliver gold, with Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards the manager’s three allocated over-age picks. The other Welshmen are Swansea duo Neil Taylor and Joe Allen and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey.
“I didn’t pick on personality, I didn’t pick on ticket sales and I certainly wasn’t picking on nationality,” said Pearce, whose GB squad will play a friendly against Brazil in Middlesbrough on 20 July. “I have got a list of names written down now, who I think ability-wise are good enough to do a job. To be honest I cannot tell you how many players there are from England and Wales. These 18 players are all Olympians now and that’s the only way I view them.
“Whenever I’ve supported a GB member as an individual, I’ve never looked at their individual nationality, I see them as British participants and I hope that’s the case throughout our isles this summer. I’ve been blown away by the mentality of the Welsh players in the squad and their desire to be part of it. From the offset, I was given the opportunity to manage this team as I normally would manage – I look on form, fitness, availability of players, and in that respect I deemed this was the best squad available to take this squad on. It was as simple as that.”
Turning to Beckham, Pearce said: “I have got a vast amount of respect for David and what he has done for the bid process in bringing the Olympics here, David as a person and for what he has done as an international with England. But I have got a duty of care for everybody within the squad to pick, in my mind, the best possible squad. The only relevance I really have is footballing terms and have treated them all in the same manner.”
Pearce added: “I sat down with the (FA) chairman David Bernstein, some time before Christmas, when he offered me the opportunity to pick the squad. If at that stage he had said to me that certain individuals would have to be included I certainly wouldn’t do that job. I don’t know any manager worth their salt who would have.”
Pearce, who travelled to the US three times to watch Beckham play for the Galaxy, continued: “There are a considerable number of other players who are not in this 18-man squad who have made themselves available, but I did stress to all players I met was there are no guarantees. There is no football manager around who picks on sentiment. This is the squad I believe is the strongest.”
Team GB kick off their campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26 and also face the United Arab Emirates at Wembley before a final group match against Uruguay in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 1 August.The full team is as follows:
Joe Allen (age: 22, Swansea City, Wales caps: 8)
Craig Bellamy (age: 32, Liverpool, Wales caps: 69, 19 goals)
Ryan Bertrand (age: 22, Chelsea, England U21 caps: 16)
Jack Butland (age: 19, Birmingham City, England U21 caps: 6)
Steven Caulker (age: 20, Tottenham Hotspur, England U21 caps: 4, 1 goal)
Tom Cleverley (age: 22, Manchester United, England U21 caps: 16)
Jack Cork (age: 23, Southampton, England U21 caps: 13)
Craig Dawson (age: 22, West Bromwich Albion, England U21 caps: 7, 4 goals)
Ryan Giggs (age: 38, Manchester United, Wales caps: 64, 12 goals)
Aaron Ramsey (age: 21, Arsenal, Wales caps: 21, 5 goals)
Micah Richards (age: 24, Manchester City, England caps: 13, 1 goal)
Danny Rose (age: 22, Tottenham Hotspur, England U21 caps: 21, 3 goals)
Scott Sinclair (age: 23, Swansea City, England U21 caps: 7, 1 goal)
Marvin Sordell (age: 21, Bolton Wanderers, England U21 caps: 7, 2 goals)
Jason Steele (age: 21, Middlesbrough, England U21 caps: 1)
Daniel Sturridge (age: 22, Chelsea, England caps: 2)
Neil Taylor (age: 23, Swansea City, Wales caps: 9)
James Tomkins (age: 23, West Ham United, England U21 caps: 10)
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