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Team GB update: Uncertainty over Sturridge leading into London 2012

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With Team GB’s first group stage match at London 2012 against Senegal just nine days away, there are still doubts over striker Daniel Sturridge who recently joined up with the squad, despite contracting viral meningitis.

With everyone hoping Sturridge makes a full recovery, the 22-year-old represents one of few choices in the attacking ranks for Stuart Pearce with the forward being selected alongside Craig Bellamy and Marvin Sordell.

Sturridge (pictured) had been mainly deployed off the right flank in a 4-3-3 system for Chelsea last season, but there were rumours he would claim his preferred centre forward’s role with Bellamy more of a second striker and Sordell a relatively unknown quantity on the international stage.

Plan B?

If the Chelsea striker has to miss out, Pearce has until 25th July to officially announce a replacement – one of four players on the designated stand-by list.

There were rumours David Beckham could even make a dramatic return from stand-by but following Pearce’s initial snub and the attacking options being extremely light anyway, the scenario of Pearce selecting another midfielder in Beckham is increasingly unlikely.

What’s more likely is the call up of either Huddersfield Town’s Jordan Rhodes or Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.

The pair are hot property in the Football League and if out-and-out striker Rhodes were to be called up, Scotland would finally have their first representative in Team GB following the Oldham-born strikers’ decision to switch his allegiance to Scotland in 2011.

In relation to Sturridge’s current condition Pearce told BBC Sport: “Our fitness and conditioning people are having a look at him, to see how he will come through training. Chelsea’s medical people are more than happy.”

Group A opponents

Whoever makes the starting XI in nine days’ time, Pearce will have to be wary of the threats Senegal may possess.

With devastating Newcastle United strike pair Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse not competing, Team GB may have faced a more formidable Lions of Teranga outfit, although Premier League fans will be familiar with West Ham United’s Mohamed Diame as well as Everton utility man Magaye Gueye, who switched his allegiance from France just before the games.

Perhaps Pearce’s side should be wary of FC Copenhagen striker Dame N’Doye who has struck over 50 goals in three years for the Danish side, competing in competitions such as the Champions League also. N’Doye is one of the three over-age players in Joseph Koto’s squad.

Team GB will then go on to play United Arab Emirates at Wembley on Sunday, July 29 with the Middle Eastern side representing the most unfamiliar of opponents.

All of the 18-man squad ply their trade in the UAE Pro-League and perhaps their most talented player is captain and centre back Hamdan Al Kamali who has tasted football in Europe, following a six-month loan switch to Lyon in January.

Although he didn’t manage a senior appearance in Ligue 1, the experience of being in the set-up of a Western European side would have proved crucial in the development of a player from a country that aren’t particularly steeped in football traditions.

Team GB’s final group game will arguably be their toughest against South American powerhouse and current third placed FIFA ranked side Uruguay.

Manager Oscar Tabarez has brought some of his most talented attacking weapons also with deadly duo Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez being designated as two of the three over-age players. Liverpool’s Sebastian Coates is also in the squad.

English audiences are familiar with the exploits of Suarez and Cavani but Team GB shouldn’t track their attention away from other younger pros too such as the much coveted Gaston Ramirez of Bologna and Palermo’s Abel Hernandez.

Qualification repercussions

If Team GB win Group A, as expected in front of an adoring home crowd, they will play the runner-up of Group B at the Milennium Stadium in Cardiff. If they finish runners-up they will play the winner of Group B at Wembley Stadium, London.

If we are to speculate, Mexico are probably the favourites for Group B and even beat Team GB 1-0 in a recent private friendly in Marbella courtesy of a Marco Fabian effort.

This leaves South Korea, Switzerland and outsiders Gabon with the former two likely to face off for second place.

South Korea have Arsenal’s Park Chu-Young, Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yueng, Sunderland’s Ji Dong-Won and Cardiff City’s imminent signing Kim Bo-Kyung in the squad and might even surprise Mexico by winning the group.

Switzerland possess a few talents of their own, particularly Dynamo Kiev’s Admir Mehmedi who secured a transfer to the Ukrainian runners-up in January.

Elsewhere, Fulham’s Pajtim Kasami is in the squad as well as ex-West Ham defender Fabio Daprela and Lorient’s exciting attacker Innocent Emeghara.

Gabon are more of an unknown quantity but have selected Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is enjoying something of a fruitful spell with Saint-Etienne in France.

Before the games, Team GB will play a friendly v Brazil at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium that will be broadcast live from 19:30 (GMT) on BBC One on Friday, July 20. Gabby Logan will present Match Of The Day Live with commentary being provided by Jonathan Pearce and Mark Bright.

By Taylor Williams - Follow me on Twitter @Taylor_Will1989 - Visit my blog - thetrickywinger.blogspot.com

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