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The men who didn’t make the Team GB squad

The unveiling of any international squad for a major tournament is always sure to raise eyebrows and Great Britain's Olympic football squad selection certainly did that.

It is highly unlikely that all supporters are ever entirely happy with the composition of their country’s squad and one only has to look at the recent European Championships for evidence of this.

This year, Great Britain will enter into the football competition at the Olympics, for the first time since Rome 1960.

Over fifty years on, the rules have changed somewhat, including the restriction on players over 23-years-old, which is limited to just three.

This has restricted the options available to manager Stuart Pearce as Great Britain take on the world.

Fierce opposition

Since the idea of a football team for a home Olympics was mooted, there has been significant opposition, mostly from the FA’s of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This reluctance to compete was founded on a fear that FIFA would later take away the independent football status of these nations.

It is partly for this reason that there are no Scottish or Northern Irish players in the 18-man squad, while there are only five Welsh players.

However, a more cynical person would suggest that the nations sending no representative players are simply not good enough. If the current FIFA world rankings reflect form and quality, Scotland are 49th and Northern Ireland in a lowly 102nd place.

The players left behind

Further complicating matters, the English FA decided that players who played at Euro 2012 were not eligible for selection in the Olympic squad.

Manager Pearce has opted for a number of youthful English players but could he have taken others?

Over aged players not considered included Michael Carrick, Peter Crouch and David Beckham.

Carrick and Crouch were overlooked for the Euros, to the disappointment of many England fans, who argued that the pair had done enough the previous season for their domestic clubs.

Crouch has an impressive international record for England, while Carrick would have added some experience in the middle of midfield.

Most controversially, Beckham was not selected, despite being deemed by many observers as a certainty to reach the Olympic squad. His history playing for England and the role he played in bringing the Olympics to London in the first place made his exclusion a real shock.

However he was overlooked, possibly on the grounds that he has not played enough football in the world's best leagues for a number of years. 

Instead, Pearce opted for Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs as two of the overage players. The pair may be not expected to start all the games but one senses Pearce may have been under pressure to select the two on sentimental grounds, due to the lack of Welsh participation at major tournaments since 1958. 

The other overage player is Micah Richards after the defender had an outstanding Premier League campaign and was unlucky not to be selected for Euro 2012.

Other potential options were young English players Chris Smalling, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Rodwell (pictured).

Although Gibbs spent much of last season on the sidelines, his case has been argued by many supporters while Smalling and Rodwell have consistently been picked in the first-teams of Manchester United and Everton respectively.

Smalling in particular has been touted as a player capable of having a bright international future, whilst Rodwell was one of the first players to model the official kit when it was released!

Unequal representation

Whether Scottish players were not allowed to play for the Great Britain team or were simply deemed not good enough is open to debate.

Barry Bannan could have been taken as an option in midfield after a number of solid displays for Aston Villa.

Pearce could also have picked Allan McGregor as a goalkeeping choice from crisis club Rangers, or striker Steven Naismith, who has recently signed for Everton.

Of course, some options were simply out of Pearce’s hands. Jack Wilshere and Gareth Bale are outstanding young players but injuries ruled them out of the tournament.

Bale was touted as a likely member of the squad, especially as he is under 23 but is now unavailable, while Wilshere has been out of action with a long-term injury which has not cleared up in time.

With Great Britain unlikely to win a medal, many British supporters may have preferred more equal representation from a number of nations in the squad, regardless of how good the players are.

However the powers that be, have decided to pick what they believe is to be the best squad possible.

With Welshmen Bellamy and Giggs making up two of the three overage players, at least the Great British side is not merely an extension of English players not good enough to play at Euro 2012.

Whether Team GB can surpass expectations remains to be seen.

The squad appears limited but this being the first time the British have played together at an Olympics in over fifty years, they may just spring a few surprises, no matter who is in the squad.

By Doug Elder – Follow me on Twitter @DouglasElder2

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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