Pearce Wants British Players in Olympic Team

Stuart Pearce is hopeful his squad for the 2012 Olympics will include footballers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after he was confirmed as manager of the Great Britain team here Thursday.

The England Under-21 coach was formally unveiled as the man to lead Britain's Olympic campaign at a press conference at Wembley in an appointment that had long been predicted across English football.

But Pearce faces a challenge in pulling together a squad for the tournament, with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations all opposing a British team at the Olympics on the grounds it may threaten their independent status in the international game.

Although it remains unclear whether the football associations concerned can block their players from playing, Pearce is optimistic that footballers from all four nations will make up the British squad.

"I am certainly not going into this job looking to only select English players," Pearce told reporters.

"I think there should be if at all possible players from all the home nations involved, and all the home nations should come forward and put their players up for selection."

Pearce believes players will make themselves available as excitement about the possibility of participating in a major tournament on home soil builds.

"A lot of it will depend on the players’ mentality -- if the players want to be part of it that will be fantastic and I think they will," Pearce said.

"They'll be excited to be part of this showcase of football. I think dialogue will come into it from myself, and the federations and the managers concerned. I think support will come and be galvanized as the kick-off approaches."

The Olympic football tournament is for Under-23 teams with each 18-man squad allowed three over-age players.

The English FA has already said no players involved in Euro 2012 will be available for the Olympics, although Premier League stars such as Tottenham's Welsh midfielder Gareth Bale and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey could feature.

Pearce declined to speculate on which players he was hoping to attract to his Olympic squad, and would not be drawn on the possibility of former England captain David Beckham gaining inclusion as one of the over-age players.

"I won't shut the door to anybody. If anyone suggests to me that they want to be part of this and their form is good and their fitness is good it would be silly of me not to select players I deem good enough," Pearce said.

Asked about Beckham, who will be 37 when the tournament kicks off, Pearce replied: "It's like everything -- everyone will be up for selection, form and fitness will dictate whoever I decide to pick.

"I've not seen him (Beckham) play recently. He's a bit too old for the Under-21s so he's not been on my radar."

Meanwhile former England international Hope Powell was named as coach of the women's team at the Olympics.

Source: Agence France Presse

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