Four years on from Giggs, Sturridge, Ramsey & co. representing Great Britain at the Olympics at London 2012, RealSport takes a look at who would be in the team if there was one at Rio 2016. We’ve kept it as strict as possible, with still just the three players over the age of 23 in the squad. If a player was at Euro 2016 he cannot be picked, which was the same four years ago. So no Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Wayne Rooney or Jamie Vardy. No player returning from injury can be selected, nor if their club had European qualifiers in pre-season.
Former Middlesbrough and Aston Villa defender Gareth Southgate turned down the England job earlier this summer, and given his success with England U21s, he would be a perfect candidate. The 45-year-old won the Toulon Tournament earlier on this summer and considering that nearly all the squad is English it’s a no brainer.
Other contenders: Aidy Boothroyd
A lot is being shouted about over Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, and he could challenge Vito Mannone for the number one jersey in the Premier League this season. The 22-year-old was linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, having played for every England age group side from U16 to U21. Many loan spells have made sure he’s racked up professional appearances with stints at Bradford City and Preston North End the most impressive.
Also in the squad: Angus Gunn
Very few will have heard of Chelsea right-back Ola Aina, but this pre-season he has really impressed new manager Antonio Conte. Many are tipping him to be a surprise feature in Chelsea’s opening match against West Ham next weekend, and he is part of the reason why fellow full-back Baba Rahman has left the club on loan. He has played once for England U21s, but that is sure to be added to this season by the 19-year-old.
Arsenal defender Calum Chambers has slightly disappointed since switching St. Mary’s for the Emirates, but there is still no doubting the defender’s talents. He now has plenty of experience under his belt, and his ability to play centre-back, right back or as a holding midfielder make him a certainty for our Team GB squad. His challenge now, pick a position and get more game-time. He keeps out new teammate Rob Holding, and West Ham’s Reece Oxford who played in West Ham’s Europa League qualifiers.
The first of our over-age players in the squad, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Crystal Palace defender makes the cut for Sam Allardyce next month. Chelsea went for him before they signed Gary Cahill, so it would be interesting to see where the 29-year-old would be now if he had moved to South West London. A good old fashioned defender who is great in the air, he’d be a rock in the heart of defence for Team GB, but we’d still like to hear if John Terry would be interested, or the state of play on Phil Jagielka’s fitness.
With the departure of Mo Diame to Newcastle, Andrew Robertson is now one of Hull’s key players, at the age of just 22. The Scot loves to get forward and works tirelessly up and down that left flank, and is no stranger to getting into the box, with four goals for Hull last season, and scoring against England at Celtic Park in 2014. With Luke Shaw just coming back from a leg break, Robertson gets the call-up.
Also in the squad: Brendan Galloway, Matt Targett
Darren Fletcher (c)
After Ryan Giggs captained the team four years ago, it only seems right that a non-English and former Manchester United player leads the team out in Rio. Darren Fletcher has enjoyed a renaissance at West Bromwich Albion, and even played in a more attacking role last season. With plenty of experience under his belt, he’ll be the glue that holds the young team together. That said, fan favourites and England legends Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are playing well in the States, and Michael Carrick keeps delivering.
It was great to see a young English player getting some game-time at Chelsea last season, and hopefully he will continue to grow. Loftus-Cheek could be the powerhouse midfielder England have been lacking, and expect him to be in the conversation after the World Cup. A midfield of him, Dele Alli and Eric Dier looks like an exciting one. The striker in our starting line-up isn’t the biggest, but the 6’3” 20-year-old can help him out in the penalty area.
Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has been performed consistently for Southampton last season, and now could be the time for him to secure a regular starting spot. The England U21 captain is deadly from set-pieces, and has an excellent passing range. The three midfielders complement each other well, and would be expected to make sure that Team GB have control of the game.
Also in the squad: Lewis Baker, Nathaniel Chalobah
Jordon Ibe’s move to Bournemouth is a very intelligent one. The former Liverpool man will get plenty of game-time down in Dorset, and a good season could put him in England contention. He has the ability to take the defender either way, and likes to strike at goal. The 20-year-old can also play upfront, which will be useful in the small 18-man squad.
The finisher. Jermain Defoe was our first name on the team sheet as he always scores goals. He kept Sunderland up last season, and although he will be playing up-front on his own in this team, he should still get the better of the young defences at Rio 2016. If you find him in the box, he’ll stick it away.
Former Norwich man Nathan Redmond has a point to prove at Southampton this coming season. He’s looked dangerous ever since he was at Brimingham, but there is a sense now that time is running out. Now 22-years-old, he needs to prove that he belongs in the Premier League after sometimes finding himself on the bench for Norwich last season.
Also in the squad: Benik Afobe, Saido Berahino
Have we missed anyone? Who do you think should be our Team GB squad? Let us know in the comment section below.