Beckham survives the cut for Team GB – former England captain set for Olympics
23:15 GMT, 17 April 2012
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David Beckham’s almost inevitable inclusion in Great Britain’s Olympic football squad remained on course last night when he survived the big cut in the selection process.
Manager Stuart Pearce’s long-list of 191 players has been pared down to 80 with LA Galaxy’s Beckham joined in the next stage by other marquee names in Joe Cole, now playing in France for Lille, and the Wales pair of Liverpool’s Craig Bellamy and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.
Olympic bound: David Beckham remains in the frame to represent Great Britain at the Olympics
All four home nations have representatives, with Scotland’s Steven Fletcher, the Wolves striker who has turned down playing for his national team, joined by Northern Ireland and West Bromwich midfielder Chris Brunt.
England Under 21 coach Pearce has chosen three of his promising England age-group youngsters in Crystal Palace full back Nathaniel Clyne, Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland, who has impressed on loan at Cheltenham, and Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran, currently on loan at Swansea.
London calling: Stuart Pearce has to narrow his selections down
None of the nine are guaranteed a place in the final pick of 18 expected to be named at the end of May. But their names being made public ahead of the competition draw at Wembley next Tuesday, when Pearce is due to talk about his Team GB plans, has to be significant.
That is especially true in the case of Beckham, who scored on Monday as LA Galaxy returned to form with a 3-1 win over Portland Timbers.
The commercial pulling power of Beckham’s worldwide appeal is crucial to Games organisers LOCOG, who have 1.5million football tickets to shift. And Beckham has been interviewed by Michael Johnson for the BBC’s 100-days-to-go Olympic programme being shown on Wednesday night.
Bale and Bellamy will also help fill seats at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where Team GB will bizarrely stage one of their group matches despite the Welsh FA’s strong opposition to their players being part of a combined side.