I was casting my mind forward to the 2012 Olympics and, more specifically, the football at the games. Great Britain has not entered a team in tournament since 1960 but now, with London obviously hosting the event, they have agreed to participate once again.
The problem has been that each of the four home nations have been previously unwilling to compromise their own independence by forming just one team. There was an ongoing dispute over who would gain control of the team in terms of the management and squad selection. A solution was only reached when Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all agreed to opt out of the team but allow a team to be entered comprising solely of English players on behalf of Great Britain.
So we know that there will be, as it stands, an all-English team representing Great Britain in both the men's and women's football tournaments at the London 2012 Olympics. I think that it is a shame that the home nations were unable to put their well-known differences and rivalries to one side to enter a team for the competition.
That being said, although it may still be two years away, I thought I would be interesting to think about what 'Great Britain's' team may look like in 2012. The format is basically an Under-23s tournament, with all but three members of each squad having to be under the age of 23. With all that considered, here is my forecast as to what a potential line up could be for Great Britain's opening match in the 2012 Football.
Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation (by 2012 I am assuming that this will have replaced 4-4-2, as it pretty much already has done, as the system used by the elite sides). The number in brackets represents the age the player will be at the time of the 2012 Olympics. I have chosen not to select any senior players for this line up to make it an entirely Under-23 side.
GK: Jason Steele (21), Middlesbrough.
DR: Martin Kelly (22), Liverpool.
DC: Chris Smalling (22), Manchester United.
DC: James Tomkins (23), West Ham.
DL: Kieran Gibbs (23), Arsenal.
DMC: Jack Rodwell (21), Everton.
DMC: Fabian Delph (22), Aston Villa.
AMR: Theo Walcott (23), Arsenal.
AMC: Jack Wilshere (20), Arsenal.
AML: Daniel Sturridge (23), Chelsea.
ST: Andy Carroll (23), Newcastle.
There are others who could have made the team, especially; Marc Albrighton, Dan Gosling, Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones. Each of these are highly rated at their respective clubs but I have gone for players that I feel will be the most experienced and established by the 2012 Olympics.
The side is, of course, highly unlikely to look anything like this. Some players may not progress as expected while other young players will hopefully emerge from obscurity to stardom to in the intervening period. The side will also be based largely on which players are selected for the Euro 2012 Championships as it is foreseeable that the selectors will pick an entirely different squad from those who take part for the senior England team in Poland and Ukraine.
Nevertheless, the Under-23 Olympic format will be an extremely interesting insight into the next generation of England footballers. It offers an opportunity to see how young English players compare to those from around the world, a parameter of a potential England team of the 2010s. It is an examination that will be of particular interest as the production of young players in England is under such scrutiny.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...