TEAM GB football manager Stuart Pearce has hinted he could hand Manchester United great Ryan Giggs a long-awaited chance to play in a major international tournament by naming him in his London 2012 squad.
Giggs, 38 next month, has scooped every club honour in a glittering career but never graced a World Cup or European Championships due to Wales’s failure to qualify for either before he retired from international football in 2007.
But Pearce is permitted to pick three players over the age of 23 in his 18-man squad for next summer’s tournament, and insisted the evergreen star’s advancing years would not diminish his credentials.
“I wouldn’t close the door on anybody, certainly if you are talking about an individual of Ryan’s ability, that’s for sure,” said former England defender Pearce, who was unveiled as Team GB head coach, along with women’s coach Hope Powell (right), yesterday.
“With the tournament being eight months away and the prep time that we have probably very isolated right near the tournament, the door is open for everybody.”
Giggs’ selection would provide one of the most gifted players of his generation the chance to end his career on a grand stage, and possibly with former United colleague David Beckham on the opposite flank.
His international retirement also removes the possibility that Welsh chiefs could seek to dissuade him from playing for Team GB, although Pearce said he believed players would play in the tournament if they wished – regardless of objections from England’s fellow home nations.
“I think the players will dictate their availability, I really do,” he added. “My opinion is players will be really excited to be part of this squad if they are good enough to get in.”
Scottish, Welsh and Irish chiefs do not want their players to represent Team GB – which is being run by the English Football Association (FA) and coached by the England Under-21 manager – as they fear it could jeopardise their independent status in world football. However, the FA believes players cannot be prevented from playing if they wish.
HOW TEAM GB COULD LOOK
1 ALLAN MCGREGOR
Rangers and Scotland Goalkeeper; Age: 29
2 KYLE WALKER
Tottenham and England Right-back; Age: 21
3 GARETH BALE
Tottenham and Wales Left-back; Age: 22
4 DANNY WILSON
Liverpool and Scotland Centre-back; Age: 19
5 MARTIN KELLY
Liverpool and England Centre-back; Age 21
6 JORDAN HENDERSON
Liverpool and England Centre midfield; Age: 21
7 DAVID BECKHAM
LA Galaxy and England Right midfield; Age 36
8 AARON RAMSEY
Arsenal and Wales Centre midfield; Age: 20
9 DANIEL STURRIDGE
Chelsea and England Forward; Age: 22
10 DAVID GOODWILLIE
Blackburn and Scotland Forward; Age: 22
11 RYAN GIGGS
Manchester United and Wales; Left midfield; Age 37
Substitutes Jack Butland (Birmingham), Ciaran Clark (Villa), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Barry Bannan (Villa), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Andy Carroll (Liverpool).
TIMETABLE | HOW TEAM WILL SHAPE UP
Nov ‘11 FA submits comprehensive list of any player they might consider for squad
Spring ‘12 Pearce whittles list down to most likely candidates
June ‘12 Final 18-man Team GB Olympic squad named
Mid-July ‘12 Squad convenes and plays two friendlies
25 July ‘12 Tournament begins
11 August ‘12 Final