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Possible Team GB starting 11 v Senegal

Team GB kick-off their Olympics campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Here, Total Football runs the rule over the possible starting 11 as Britain go for football gold for the first time.

Goalkeeper

Jack Butland

The Birmingham City stopper barely registered on most fans’ radars until recently, but his selection for Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad changed all that. He demonstrates an agility and presence that belies his relative youth.

Likely to remain second fiddle to Joe Hart for a very long time on the England scene, Butland has the chance to make an impact in this new Olympic arena instead. What’s more, he has attracted interested from Tottenham amongst others, and a strong showing as Team GB’s number one would do his transfer chances no harm at all.

Defenders

Danny Rose

The Spurs man can play on the wing or at left back, but expect him in the defensive role against Senegal. A regular for Pearce in the Under-21 set up, what Rose lacks in defensive nous he makes up for with bursting enthusiasm and pace, offering real dynamism down the flanks.

He has had injury problems, but the Olympics offer him a real chance to show he has the mettle for a starting place under new Spurs boss Villas-Boas. If he could score a goal like he did on his debut against Arsenal, that would certainly get the world’s notice.

Steven Caulker

Another notional Spurs player, Caulker is better known for his fine season at Swansea last year. Also a regular for England Under-21s, he has grown up considerably since a patchy spell at Bristol City the year before.

He is fleet of foot and thinking, and can be a rock at the heart of Team GB’s defence alongside James Tomkins.

James Tomkins

A cool head on young shoulders, Tomkins played a vital part in West Ham’s promotion back to the Premier League last year. During the previous relegation campaign he appeared out of his depth and spent mentally, but he recovered masterfully last year and has the potential to form an impenetrable wall alongside Caulker.

He also offers a potent aerial threat at set pieces, which could be worth just as much to a side possibly lacking in goals.

Micah Richards

One of the over-age players who made the cut ahead of Beckham, Richards was a surprise exclusion from Euro 2012 but fully merits his place here. A stalwart of Manchester City’s title-winning team, he has played in 100 Premier League games for his club.

A strong and marauding presence down the right flank or in the centre, Richards can sometimes be caught out of position, but he normally compensate for this with his raw speed and agility. Unused to being a leader, he will need to marshal an inexperienced back line if we are to clinch the gold medal.

Midfielders

Ryan Giggs

It is a travesty of nationality that Ryan Giggs has never graced the biggest international stage, but now he finally gets his chance (sort of). He’s won the lot at club level, but would love to lead Team GB to the gold as the likely captain. He has played in the centre in recent years for United, and could fill the same role here, or resort to his old flying left wing self by filling in for the injured Gareth Bale.

Stuart Pearce will also expect Giggs to be a simultaneously inspiring and calming presence on the young squad. Fans will be hoping he can be one of the stars of London 2012.

Joe Allen

People get carried away when they compare Swansea to Spain, with Allen the Iniesta in the pack, but he is undoubtedly a huge talent and rightly won a lot of plaudits for his play last season.

He marries tremendous vision with sharp thinking and passing, and is precisely the kind of (Welsh) player the side needs if it isn’t going to be a replicant of the defensive fare served up by England at Euro 2012.

Aaron Ramsey

The Arsenal man has struggled to fulfil his early promise since a horrific leg break in 2010, but a dominating performance at the heart of Team GB’s midfield would go a long way to assuaging the doubters. The Welsh captain has the potential alongside his compatriots Giggs and Allen to really dictate the tempo of games, with all being natural ball-players in a way few British players are.

Ramsey doesn’t score as many as he should, but he boasts a sweet strike and is capable of taking a chance when presented. It’s important he pushes up and doesn’t adopt the overly-cautious Gerrard/Lampard routine with whoever he partners with.

Scott Sinclair

A dark horse contender for Team GB’s man of the tournament, the Swansea playmaker is versatile and has a keen eye for goal. Able to operate anywhere in the midfield or as a make-shift attacker if needed, he has fantastic burst of speed and nimble feet.

He famously hit a hat-trick in Swansea’s play-off final a year ago, before notching eight goals in the Premier League last season. Pearce will want him to play without fear and take on defenders in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

Forwards

Craig Bellamy

The feisty Welshman attracts controversy, but few doubt that he is a phenomenal player with the ability to fire this side all the way to the final. The striker boasts 120 league goals to his name and had a better than expected season with Liverpool in the last campaign.

If Team GB heads start to drop, Pearce will look to Bellamy to fire everybody up. There’s always a danger he’ll go too far and get sent off, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge started against Brazil following his meningitis scare, and he looks set to partner Craig Bellamy again. But Stuart Pearce could turn to Bolton's Marvin Sordell (pictured) to partner Bellamy in attack, having replaced the Welshman against Brazil. He was something of a surprise inclusion in the first place, having made just three senior appearances for his club, but he made a real mark in his time at Watford, scoring 15 goals in the 2010-11 season.

By Ian Ford

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