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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
GB Olympic team keen on Bale inclusion

Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Gareth Bale is wanted as a 'must have' player for the 2012 Great Britain Olympic team, and ESPNsoccernet has learned that discreet enquires have already been made to the Welsh FA about his potential availability.

• Bale attracting Italian interest - agent

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are reluctant to be part of a GB team for fear of jeopardising their place as one of five individual voting nations on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - despite assurances from the FIFA and UEFA presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini that their position will not be under threat.

At the moment, only England are committed to the GB Team for the Olympics and talks are ongoing to persuade the other three nations to participate, but so far there has only been a negative response.

Even if Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were to agree to participation, there are few players from those countries who would earn a place in the GB team on merit. The likes of Scottish pair Darren Fletcher and Barry Bannan could be considered, but the inclusion of Spurs star Bale would be a no-brainer.

A source told ESPNsoccernet: "Gareth Bale has emerged this season as one of the most exciting players in world football, and the plan is not just to field an Olympic football team, but to put together a team that has a chance of going for gold.

"You're not going to achieve that without players of Gareth Bale's quality. But so much depends on the attitude of the Welsh FA as he is a Welsh international. The parameters of the home nations' participation is the subject of wide scale debate."

It will be impossible for Bale to play without Wales giving the go-ahead, but talks have already begun in a bid to convince the Welsh footballing authorities to allow his involvement.

There is an International Board meeting scheduled for March when the tricky issue of participation in the Olympics will be discussed more formally.

Also up for discussion is whether to use the England Under-21 or even Under-20 team as the base for the GB squad, but the inclusion of a player like Bale, now recognised as one of the best left-sided players in the world, is one that will raise the biggest part of the debate.




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