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Team GB fate in safe hands?

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So, the European Championships concluded in spectacular fashion for those ever-so impressive Spaniards on Sunday evening. Where now, for the ardent football fan?

Well if the transfer and managerial movement isn’t enough to satisfy even the largest withdrawal symptoms, fear not because Olympic football and London 2012 is just around the corner.

Manager Stuart Pearce announced his 18-man squad yesterday afternoon, and after springing a few surprises, the squad remains competitive on paper, despite the much-publicised snub of David Beckham, who may yet receive a place on the stand-by list.

After witnessing the cavalier displays by some of the world’s best stoppers in messrs Buffon, Casillas and Neuer during Euro 2012, Team GB’s shutout merchants are very much in their keeping infancy as Pearce opted for his three over-23 options in the outfield; Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards.

Selected in the squad are Jack Butland of Birmingham City who won a place in Roy Hodgson’s England set-up this summer. Also selected is fellow Championship custodian Jason Steele of Middlesbrough who too seemingly has a great career ahead of him.

Jack Butland

For 19-year-old Butland (pictured), his Christmases have really came all at once this summer, with experience of being in the set-up at a major international tournament and now an Olympic Games being secured in just a couple of months.

Impressive, considering the 6ft4 Clevedon-born keeper is yet to make his first team debut for his parent club Birmingham City, following a notable spell at League Two Cheltenham Town last season.

But what do we know of Butland, who still remains something of an unknown quantity to many English football fans despite his meteoric rise?

Well, he was shortlisted for last November’s League Two player of the month award, whilst keeping seven clean sheets in his 12 appearances for the Robins.

Cheltenham team mate Steve Elliott has previously stated his admiration of the youngster: “He has everything he needs to play at the very top level, and where some players lack the attitude required to succeed, Jack’s head is screwed on, he knows what he wants and what he has to do to get there.”

It remains to be realised just who will get the nod as the number one during the London 2012 games but as Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have proved in recent years for the England senior side, if you’re good enough, you’re young enough.

Butland has been the subject of interest from many Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Everton and Southampton, but following Ben Foster’s permanent switch to West Bromwich Albion last week, he may just be Birmingham City's new number one next term, if he opts for an extended spell in the West Midlands under new manager Lee Clark.

Jason Steele

And what of the other goalkeeper in Jason Steele? Well, Newton Aycliffe-born Steele has been around a bit longer than Butland, but at 21 is still a spring chicken in terms of his footballing career.

Coming through Middlesbrough’s famed academy, Steele is very much Boro’s number one after sealing a breakthrough in the 2011/12 Championship campaign.

Following a notable loan spell at Northampton in 2010, Steele has gone on to rack up 69 appearances between the sticks of the Teesside club and has successfully negotiated the passage between academy and first team football in the second tier; something Butland is on the cusp of doing himself.

An England Under-21 international, Steele possesses leadership qualities and was even captain of the England Under-19 side that played Ukraine in the 2009 Under-19 European Championships.

Steele may play back up to Butland at the Games, but there is no doubting that both are receiving a huge vote of confidence, that may put them in good stead to challenge Joe Hart in the England national fold in the future.

Upon hearing he was involved in the squad, Steele told Middlesbrough’s official website: “It’s something that I would cherish for the rest of my life. I would tell the kids and grandkids about it.”

Stuart Pearce’s Team GB will play Brazil in a friendly at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on July 20th before playing Senegal (July 26th), United Arab Emirates (July 29th) and Uruguay (August 1st) in the preliminary rounds at the London 2012 games proper.

By Taylor Williams - Follow me on Twitter @Taylor_Will1989

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