David Beckham remains in the reckoning for Olympics after Stuart Pearce culls football squad list

 

David Beckham's Olympic dream remains intact after he survived the latest cut to Stuart Pearce's GB squad.

Pearce has slashed his 191-strong long-list to 80 players, who are now being contacted by the Football Association to confirm they remain in contention.

Beckham is the most notable figure and it remains highly likely the former England skipper, 37 next month, will be one of three over-age players in Pearce's final 18-man squad when it is confirmed at the end of May.

Having played such a pivotal role in getting the Olympics to London in the first place, it would be a suitable reward, although others may argue it could weaken British hopes of a gold medal.

Representatives from all four Home Nations are in the latest squad, including Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy, Steven Fletcher and Chris Brunt and the FA remain optimistic non-English players will accept a chance to play in a major tournament on home soil.

However, the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FA's are completely opposed to participation and whilst they accept there is no legal basis to bar selection, dire warnings about future existence of national teams are bound to be made.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has been ruled out through injury but former Chelsea star Joe Cole, currently on loan at Lille, is amongst the potential over-age players, whilst Birmingham's Jack Butland, Chelsea's Josh McEachran and Crystal Palace's Nathaniel Clyne are amongst those who meet the Under-23 criteria.

Knowledge that Beckham could still be in the squad and appear in competitive games in the UK for possibly the last time, should help push ticket sales which, for GB games, are said to be strong.

In excess of 50,000 have been sold for the opening game at Old Trafford on July 26 and a double-header friendly featuring both the men's and women's teams will be confirmed for the north-east at some stage over the next few weeks.

GB will learn their three group stage opponents at the official draw on Tuesday, although it is likely they will be kept apart from fellow European contenders Spain, who are almost certain to include Manchester United keeper David de Gea, Switzerland and Belarus, plus Brazil, who will almost certainly be a fellow top seed.

Argentina, USA and Australia are amongst the most notable teams who have not qualified but the presence of Uruguay, Mexico and New Zealand should generate wider interest.

The final place in the men's competition will be decided at Coventry on Monday, when Senegal take on Oman in a play-off.

PA

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