Worthington happy for players to join Team GB

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The Independent Football

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington would be happy for any of his players to participate in the London 2012 Olympics and does not believe their international careers should suffer in any way if they do.

The British Olympic Association released a statement saying players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be eligible to represent Team GB at the Games, only for the Irish Football Association to join their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in registering their condemnation of such plans.

Worthington, though, appreciates the lure of the Olympics and believes any player who opted to go forward for selection should not be tainted by that decision.

"The players will have their own views on whether they want to be involved in a GB team at the Olympics and whatever their view is should have no impact on their international careers," Worthington told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I can understand players wanting to play in an Olympics and they should not be criticised for that but I also understand the position taken by the Irish FA.

"It is not an issue that I am really involved in as it's a matter for the associations and they have made their positions clear.

"As an international manager I would have no problem with players wanting to be involved."

The three home associations have long opposed an all-British team at the London Games, fearing it could affect their separate identities in world football, and saying the team should be made up of English players only.

Neil Lennon would have no problem with any of his Celtic players appearing - but admits the prospect would not have appealed to him when he was a player.

The Northern Irishman said: "Ultimately it wouldn't be my decision but I wouldn't stand in any player's way.

"If the players wanted to go and participate in it I wouldn't have a problem with it.

"It's a hypothetical question I suppose. I would probably have to have dialogue with the SFA and I would respect their views, obviously, and I would have to respect the players' views."

Asked whether he would have wanted to be involved, Lennon added: "Probably not. I think that is important (the home nations' autonomy) but I think the Olympics, traditionally, should be an amateur sport.

"I know it has changed quite a great deal over the last three or four Olympics but I don't feel professional soccer should be an Olympic sport. It wouldn't have appealed to me really."

Inverness manager Terry Butcher is in favour of a Team GB while former Scotland boss Craig Brown, now at Aberdeen, is opposed to such a notion.

Rangers youngsters Kyle Hutton and Gregg Wylde, meanwhile, have both indicated they would be willing to play for Great Britain.

Speaking at the launch of Rangers' new away kit, Wylde, 20, said: "I wouldn't mind to be honest. I haven't been called up to the Scotland squad yet and hopefully if I play this season I will be called up.

"But if I do get called up to Team GB it would be good for me and my career ahead."

Hutton, also 20, added: "I feel the same. Obviously if the chance came along to be picked for Team GB it would be a great achievement for me.

"It is the whole event, everybody knows about (the Olympics)."

Hutton admits he would relish the prospect of playing alongside former England captain David Beckham, if that were to be the case - but insists Rangers remain his priority.

"He is a worldwide superstar because of his ability and to play alongside him would be a dream come true," said Hutton.

"But if it coincided with the league and stuff like that I would leave it out and stick with Rangers and totally focus on them."