Stuart Pearce says Giggs, Scholes and Beckham could be in action for Team GB at Old Trafford
Stuart Pearce has refused to rule out the possibility that three of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most famous fledglings could be reunited to kick-off Great Britain’s bid for Olympic gold at Old Trafford this summer.
This year’s Olympics will begin with the opening game of the football tournament in Manchester on July 26, a day before the opening ceremony in London.
And former City manager Pearce, the man tasked with delivering gold, has admitted he is considering enlisting David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes – with a combined age of 111 – to sprinkle stardust on his squad of Under-23s.
“Any possibility still exists,” said Pearce. “Any player who is on that long list, and maybe the odd individual who isn’t, has got the opportunity to put themselves forward for the Olympic team, which is fantastic.”
Scholes wasn’t on the original list of 191 players approached by the FA about their availability for the 16-team tournament.
But after temporarily postponing his retirement to make a comeback with United, Pearce revealed the 37-year-old has put himself back in the frame to be one of the three over-age players in the final 18-man squad.
“We’ve certainly not shut a door on anyone,” said Pearce. “What we tried to do was get the list down to a manageable number and the criteria from the British Olympic Association, that’s what they have asked for in terms of contacting players.
“But I think if there were to be an individual who comes from somewhere, in a way that Paul has this month, we might have to review that.”
And far from hampering his chances of a call-up, Pearce revealed that Beckham’s decision to sign a new two-year contract with the LA Galaxy – who will be in the middle of their MLS Cup defence when the Olympic tournament starts – has increased the possibility that the former England captain will be part of the first British team to play at the Olympics for 52 years.
“The one thing you could say is the fact he will be in mid-season and being match-fit, that might be helpful,” said Pearce.
“But that’s just one individual and, of course, we’ll be looking at the form and fitness of every individual and I’ll pick a squad accordingly, disregarding the nation they come from.”
Apart from the 23 players chosen by Fabio Capello to take part in the European Championships this summer, and the seven who have told the FA they won’t be available, Pearce has free rein to pick anyone born after January 1 1989 from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It means Tom Cleverley – if fit and not picked by Capello – Jack Rodwell and Gareth Bale could join a list of star players including Lionel Messi, Romario, Bebeto, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez to have taken part at the Olympic Games.
Also battling for a place as an over-age player could well be Micah Richards, with the City right-back continually left out of Capello’s squads despite performing well for the Blues.
“All the individuals on the long list will be considered,” said Pearce.
“Hopefully, we can get that down to a more manageable number in March, but all of those players will have a different story and movement towards the tournament.
“We’ll view them all individually and find out how they are doing in terms of form and fitness and pick the best squad accordingly to hopefully showcase our profession.
“It would be folly for me to rule anyone out, when you look at the fact there will certainly be 23 players ruled out for my selection with regard the England squad for Euro 2012.
“Over and above that squad it is reasonably fair game. We have tried to whittle it down to a long but manageable list, but obviously we’re going to have to review things as we go. The politics and expectation from the BOA are things I will have to get in sync with, things like the amount of backroom staff I can have and the passes we will receive will be minimal in comparison.
“The things we get used to in football like the number of masseurs and physios is very different in the Olympics, and it has certainly been my mentality to get into the Olympic ideal.”
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