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Was it right to leave David Beckham out of Team GB squad?

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Gareth Bale is ruled out of the Team GB squad because of injury, but David Beckham was available for selection - and the big question following the news that he had been left out was: Why?

 

Part of Sebastian Coe’s dynamic team that helped bring the Olympics to London, Beckham has always been a prominent ambassador for Team GB and the Olympic Games, yet has failed to make the final cut for Stuart Pearce’s team.

With only three spaces for over 23s available in the squad, it was always going to be a tough ask for Beckham to be included, and he must now make way for former team-mate Ryan Giggs alongside Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards to fill the three spots.

After being a long-standing member of the Team GB committee, it seemed almost certain that Beckham would be included – in fact, possibly even as one of the core players – in Pearce’s Olympic squad, but this is far from the case.

Pearce phoned Beckham yesterday with the news of his omission, stating that he wanted more defensive cover and though bursting with experience, a cool head and an inspiring ability to switch play effortlessly, Pearce felt Beckham couldn’t deliver defensively.

This certainly indicates why Ryan Giggs has been chosen for his experience in a deeper midfield role ahead of LA Galaxy regular Beckham.

Never guaranteed a place

Whilst the full 18-man squad list will not be released until Monday, indications show that - although a national treasure - Becks would face stiff opposition for position, and has never been guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

The FA has previously stated that no player selected for Euro 2012 would be selected for Team GB, and perhaps this has helped in influencing public opinion in assuming Beckham would be picked. Indeed, this promise seems to have been largely upheld with goalkeeper Jack Butland – who did not play a game in England’s Euro 2012 campaign – likely to be called up for Team GB.

Pundits were quick to add their views on Twitter, including an outraged Robbie Savage who felt it a “disgrace” for Beckham to be included in the provisional shortlist but excluded from the final 18-man squad. Even BBC Sport pundit Gary Lineker believed it to be a “terrible shame” that a player who had given so much to football and the Olympic bid was not rewarded with a place.

However, this is possibly what Stuart Pearce is trying to purposefully prove – players won’t get a place if it is felt obligatory; they must warrant their place on merit and good performances.

True to form, Beckham hasn’t played a competitive football match in England for nine years now and, though a current starter for LA Galaxy, it can be argued that the pace and physicality of Major League Soccer is sub-standard to that of the reputed Premier League.

On the off-season, many MLS stars including Beckham or Thierry Henry have been known to train with Premier League clubs purely to maintain their fitness levels – something that only seems second nature to Premier League players.

Rising stars set to shine

Now is the time to look towards Team GB’s rising stars. Previously, a combination of young talent from all corners of the British Isles has been unprecedented, and it will be interesting to see how these players shape up in an ‘all-star’ set-up.

Let's not forget, while the focus may be on the omission of Beckham, even Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand too, and the inclusion of Giggs, Bellamy and Richards in the 18-man squad, there are still 15 places available for the hottest talent on these shores and this is something that is certainly to be savoured.

Of the 18-man football squads submitted for the Olympics, all must contain 15 players born after January 1 1989. Team GB were drawn in Group A where they will play Senegal, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates. Their first match, against Senegal at Old Trafford, will take place on July 26.

TEAM GB: Who has made the final cut?

Giggs, Bellamy and Richards in Team GB squad

By James Hartnett – Follow me on Twitter @JamesHartnett

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