Tokyo Olympics: From Frank Lampard to Jonny Evans, Team GB’s men’s football XI if they could compete
Despite the summer’s football coverage being dominated by Euro 2020, there is still another major tournament to switch attention to before the domestic campaign kicks back into action.
Tokyo’s Olympic Games will provide plenty of talent to keep an eye on following the European Championship – but one nation who won’t be fielding a men’s team any time in the near future will be the United Kingdom.
The mechanism to qualify isn’t there for team featuring British and Northern Irish players, with countries reaching the Olympic competition through their performance at the Under 21 European Championship which sees the Home Nations compete as separate teams.
Team GB competed with players made up from England and Wales during the London Games
But without a mechanism to qualify a united Team GB are unable to compete at the Olympics
That means occasions like the summer of 2012, where Britain could compete as hosts, look like only being a one-off occasion.
But in a scenario where Team GB could feature in Tokyo this summer, it makes interesting reading for who could actually compete for the combined nations.
With England, Scotland and Wales all competing at Euro 2020, many stars who could have otherwise been available would likely be ruled out by their clubs on the basis of not getting enough of a summer break – with the congested domestic season preceding it playing a large factor.
Olympic rules for Tokyo state teams must field players born in 1997 or after – with three maximum overage stars. Sportsmail looks at how a Home Nations combined XI could have featured at the Olympics this summer.
The big problem for a British team is that the vast majority of their goalkeeping talent is represented at the European Championship or injured such as Nick Pope.
In a position where having a proven pair of hands could bring plenty of advantages, it’s where the first overage player features in Southampton stopper Alex McCarthy.
One-time England keeper Alex McCarthy would feature as an over-age player for Team GB
The 2020-21 campaign wasn’t an excellent one for the one-time capped England goalkeeper whose form saw him having to battle for the Saints jersey along with Fraser Forster, although he did end the season starting five of the last seven games.
The 31-year-old did keep seven clean sheets last term and with over 100 top flight games under his belt with the St Mary’s outfit, is a reliable pair of hands to guide the back four in front of him.
It’s been an excellent season for Max Aarons who is now a long established first-team star at a Norwich City side who are back in the Premier League for the 2021-22 season after winning the Championship.
The right-back though already has top-flight football experience having also been a member of the Canaries side during their last top flight campaign which ended just under a year ago.
Even then there were Premier League clubs monitoring his progress and interest remains high with Arsenal thought to be most keen on pursuing any deal – with even Barcelona and Bayern Munich having tracked the 21-year-old.
Aarons is now well established at Under 21 level for England and is so confident of one day breaking into the senior set-up, is prepared to turn down any approach from Jamaica for whom he would also be eligible.
Max Aarons has attracted interest from Arsenal and would feature as a right back for Team GB
Ben Godfrey was on the brink of breaking into the England squad for Euro 2020, and that makes him prime picking for featuring at centre-back in a potential Team GB.
He made his Three Lions debut in June as a second half sub in the 1-0 win over Austria before then playing the full 90-minutes in a victory over Romania by the same scoreline a few days later having been included in a preliminary squad by Southgate.
The England boss was keen to give the defender a taste of international experience following two years in the top flight where after leaving Norwich last October he joined Everton for £25million.
Despite the Toffees’ inconsistency leading them to go from strong Champions League challengers to a tenth place finish, the 23-year-old impressed and has the potential to form a key part of the Merseyside’s back line for years to come.
Ben Godfrey’s first England caps would have strengthened his case for a centre back spot
As well as in goal, a defence with a wise old head is also hugely beneficial – and that’s where Jonny Evans comes in.
With a Champions League winners’ medal, three Premier League titles, over 300 Premier League games and 91 Northern Ireland caps, he is close to a perfect candidate to marshall a Team GB back four – having also lifted the FA Cup with Leicester City in May.
Although he missed the end of the Premier League season due to an ankle injury, the Leicester City centre-back would be expected to be back in contention following the summer off given Northern Ireland’s failure to qualify for Euro 2020.
The 33-year-old is the second over-age player to feature in the squad but his availability would be too good to turn down and he would be the captain.
The vastly experienced Jonny Evans would skipper Team GB having lifted the FA Cup in May
Tottenham Hotspur fans may need reminding but Ryan Sessegnon remains on their books in north London having spent the last season on loan at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
The 21-year-old impressed after coming through the Fulham ranks, earning him a £25million move to Spurs in the summer of 2019.
But the attacking the full-back had little time to impress under Mauricio Pochettino before his November sacking and soon fell out of favour under his replacement Jose Mourinho.
His career in England could be given a reboot this summer under yet another new boss at Tottenham but during his spell he has remained an important part of the England Under 21 set-up and would be strong pick to feature at left-back for a Team GB line-up.
Left-back Ryan Sessegnon is looking to kickstart his career at Tottenham from this summer
The Rangers midfielder would be a controversial pick for the squad but not down to ability as he would be ideal to sit in front of the back four and anchor a three man midfield as the final overage pick.
But the Rangers star has been out since February having undergone an operation on a calf injury that ruled him out of the Scottish Premiership run-in as well as Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign.
The 29-year-old though is hopeful of returning for Steven Gerrard’s side and their title defence at the start of next term and that may have put him in the window of featuring at the Olympics – which would soften the blow of missing the European Championship.
Norwich City’s Kenny McClean was also in contention but the Scot’s three-month absence confirmed by the Canaries following his knee injury picked up on the final day of the Championship campaign in May could see him struggle to even make the start of next season.
Ryan Jack’s fitness would be suspect, but the Scot would be important to the midfield
Emile Smith Rowe
While Arsenal endured their worst Premier League season for over 25 years, the campaign was a personal success for Emile Smith Rowe who managed to break into the starting XI on a regular basis and build his reputation at the Emirates Stadium.
The 20-year-old featured in 33 matches across all competitions under Mikel Arteta and that tally only looks set to continue next term following some impressive displays in the attacking third.
His potential is not just recognised by Arsenal either, with Aston Villa having an audacious £25million bid rejected in June, while Real Madrid are also keen on using him in negotiations as part of a potential swap deal involving Martin Odegaard.
For now he has just one cap at Under 21 level, and while stiff competition may delay his call-up to a senior team, he remains one of the England’s brightest talents.
Emile Smith Rowe would have entered the Olympics off the back of a positive Arsenal season
Another young English midfielder finding more game time last season at a ‘Big Six’ club was Curtis Jones who benefitted from a Liverpool injury crisis to pick up valuable minutes and learning experience in the Reds’ midfield.
Like, Arsenal it was a season to forget for Liverpool’s whose Premier League title defence collapsed after Christmas and saw them ending the season with a succession of victories to sneak a Champions League place.
But despite this the 20-year-old impressed and he has done since making his Reds bow during an FA Cup match in the 2018-19 campaign – before then scoring the winner against local rivals Everton with an excellent finish a year later in the same competition.
With four Under 21 caps since and a nomination for the Golden Boy award, an accolade for the best Under 21 player in Europe, Jones is well on track to become a Premier League star.
Curtis Jones saw his development aided last term with increased game time at Liverpool
With Callum Hudson-Odoi weighing up the prospect of a switch to Ghana, a call-up to Team GB may not have been in the forefront of the Chelsea winger’s mind.
Instead, options are spread to elsewhere and Harvey Barnes would be a strong inclusion on the left side of a three-man-attack.
The 23-year-old has become a regular in Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City side that for the past couple of years have established themselves as regular challengers for a Champions League place.
Barnes’ game has improved to a great extent during that time, with his finishing having improved markedly to compliment his dribbling strength which earned him his maiden England cap in 2020 against Wales.
Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes has seen his game improve greatly in the last two years
Matondo is the only Welsh player in the team but the 20-year-old is only just starting to find his feet again having seen his career stumble after leaving Manchester City’s academy set-up in 2019 to join Schalke for £11million.
The German giants have since suffered a dramatic decline which led to them finishing bottom of the Bundesliga last term – although the right-sided forward had long since bailed that sinking ship before relegation was confirmed having been picked up by a Stoke City lifeboat on loan.
Injuries prevented him starting regularly in the Championship but the Potters remain keen on the forward in trying to secure a permanent deal, while there is attention from around Europe for his services too.
Matondo is still eligible at Under 21 level for Wales but already has eight senior caps and was part of the Euro 2020 preliminary squad for the team before being cut ahead of the finals.
Rabbi Matondo (right) featured for Wales in a friendly against England back in October
Team GB’s chief marksman would likely see Tammy Abraham get the nod, having ended the season as Chelsea’s joint top scorer across all competitions with 12 goals despite largely being frozen out since new manager’s Thomas Tuchel’s arrival in January.
With a path to England’s line-up also blocked by Harry Kane and strong competition for places as his back up, it has given Abraham the summer off and having struggled for gametime anyway would have likely been keen on featuring as the main striker for Team GB.
Abraham already has six caps for England so would not be a new face at international level and already at 23-years-old has a decent amount of experience to call upon.
He sees off Mason Greenwood for a spot, who pulled out of England’s preliminary squad for Euro 2020 in a bid to restore his fitness in time for the start of Manchester United’s domestic season.
Tammy Abraham ended the season as Chelsea’s joint top scorer despite being dropped
Manager – Frank Lampard
A man who would have been bittersweet this summer at seeing his former club Chelsea win the Champions League.
HIs links to the club as a playing legend mean he will always wish success at Stamford Bridge but he will still feel some anger over his harsh sacking at the start of the year, even if the Blues’ decision was justified in the short term at least.
But it was Lampard which laid the foundations for the Blues’ Champions League success, bringing in the likes of youngsters Mason Mount and Reece James into the side after their progression through the academy which have since helped the duo become England internationals.
Lampard’s impressive spell at Stamford Bridge came on top of a positive tenure at Derby County and his positive experience in working and developing young players would work in his favour to lead a Team GB side into an Olympic Games.
Frank Lampard remains out of management since his harsh Chelsea sacking in January