Former Claret Jack Cork has made the Team GB squad – but should Jay Rodriguez, Steven Fletcher and current Claret Kieran Trippier join him?Kevin Robinson thinks so.
Cork was the one shining light from the second half of our Premier League season and continued to shine when he returned for a second loan spell in the Championship the following season. Though at Southampton now, I think I speak on behalf of all Clarets in wishing him well this summer – but should he be joined by some familiar faces?
Rodriguez’s non-inclusion is particularly confusing given that Bolton’s forgotten man, the inferior Marvin Sordell, has been picked ahead of him as one of the squad’s three strikers.
Sordell managed just 39 minutes of first-team football at Horwich since signing for £3 million on transfer deadline day in the over-inflated January market – under half what we got for Jay this summer. In fact of his three substitute appearances the only time he played more than eight minutes Bolton were already 2-0 down to the European Champions elect at Stamford Bridge.
Woefully out of favour Owen Coyle chose the likes of David N’Gog (who averages a goal every 11 games) ahead of him and he was soon linked with a move away, with the mighty Barnsley showing particular interest. Prior to that he managed just 10 goals in 29 appearences for Watford in the Championship, at a rate of about one in three.
Jay on the other hand hit a goal every two games – 21 overall as he played almost every game on the way to being named Burnley’s player of the season and securing a move to Southampton amidst interest from several top-flight rivals.
He’s versatile too – a huge advantage in a tournament squad – having looked just as comfortable on the wing as up top and should be full of confidence after making the step up to the Prem – while lack of action plus a relegation is hardly inspirational stuff for Sordell.
Clarets right-back Kieran Trippier swept the board at the player of the year awards too and has been linked with a Premier League move through the summer with Newcastle United mentioned more than once. He too has been overlooked by Stuart Pearce despite an outstanding season at Turf Moor.
After bizarrely missing out on Euro 2012 right-back, Micah Richards is one of GB’s over-age selections but is the squad’s only natural in that position. West Ham’s James Tomkins provides back-up on the right but is much more comfortable in the middle.
Another former Claret to miss out is Steven Fletcher, now of Wolves but likely to return to the top flight this summer following relegation last season. He got 12 goals playing in a, quite frankly, terrible Wolves side last season and scored more headers than anyone in the Premier League.
Fletcher’s omission could be beyond Pearce’s control, though. The Scottish FA were very much against any Team GB football representation and effectively banned their players from the squad. Whilst Fletcher has been outcast by Craig Levein he’ll still have hopes of getting back in under the next manager so will be keen not to sour relations with the SFA top bods.
“At a time when the England senior side have been criticised for a lack of imagination, Pearce has studded his GB squad with improvisational, pacy and versatile individuals,” Dominic Fifield wrote for Guardian.
Stuart Pearce has been praised by some for a squad selected on merit rather than name – but Sordell’s inclusions stinks of Hodgson-style favouritism of a player he is already familiar with. But unlike Hodgson – who could be forgiven given he had just a matter of weeks to choose a squad – Pearce has been preparing for the Olympics since October.
There will be Burnley representation at the Games though, as Cameron Howieson was recently picked for New Zealand – we’ll be cheering him and Jack on.
Here’s the full Team GB football squad for London 2012 – do you think Jay or Trippier deserve a place in there? Comment below.
Jack Butland (Birmingham), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Neil Taylor (Swansea), James Tomkins (West Ham)
Joe Allen (Swansea), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Jack Cork (Southampton), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Scott Sinclair (Swansea)
Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea).