The Team GB women’s football squad has been announced and it is fair to say there are a few surprises with some debatable choices ahead of the Olympics Games in Tokyo this summer.
It certainly can’t have been an easy choice with so many quality players available and only 18 selected.
The Team GB squad is as follows:
Team GB Goalkeepers
Karen Bardsley (OL Reign and England), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City and England)
Team GB Defenders
Millie Bright (Chelsea and England), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City and England), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash and England), Steph Houghton (Manchester City and England), Demi Stokes (Manchester City and England), Leah Williamson (Arsenal and England)
Team GB Midfielders
Sophie Ingle (Chelsea and Wales), Kim Little (Arsenal and Scotland), Jill Scott (Manchester City and England), Keira Walsh (Manchester City and England), Caroline Weir (Manchester City and Scotland)
Team GB Forwards
Lauren Hemp (Manchester City and England), Fran Kirby (Chelsea and England), Nikita Parris (Olympique Lyonnais and England), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City and England), Ellen White (Manchester City and England)
Team GB Reserve players
Sandy MacIver (Goalkeeper – Everton and England), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Defender – Arsenal and England), Niamh Charles (Midfielder – Chelsea and England), Ella Toone (Forward – Manchester United and England)
Team GB analysis
I think Hege Riise got it spot on with the four alternates. Those players won’t see any minutes unless one of the 18 players get a tournament ending injury. They are more or less training players, ready to be activated if needed, who could spend their time at the online kaszinó.
When you look at their profiles, these are four youngsters who will represent England in future tournaments like Euro 2022 and might even be starters come the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia. It is important to give them tournament experience. Being an alternate does not suite every player because it can be quite frustrating to spend more than month training knowing you are really unlikely to get a chance.
To me, the following choices in the main team are logical: Ellie Roebuck, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Leah Williamson, Kim Little, Caroline Weir, Lauren Hemp, Fran Kirby and Ellen White.
Performance-wise, these are key players who deserve to be there as they have done consistently well with their clubs.
Daly is a player that can play in five positions on the pitch, so will be needed and used a lot throughout the tournament. She can play RB, LB, RW, LW and CF. I would guess that’s why Alex Greenwood, who is also very versatile was not selected.
Then, there are some who are debatable selections as those players were in competition against many good players.
Millie Bright, who is a regular with Chelsea, is a key player but is she one of the best centre-backs available?
Stephanie Houghton is a debatable choice because of her fitness levels. She has not played a game in a long time due to injury. Otherwise, she is a key player and the England captain. Like Millie Bright, you could also if there were better centre-backs available.
Sophie Ingle has had a great season with Chelsea and deserves to be included, but you have to remember that she got sent off in the Champions League this season for poor decision making and did not light up the Champions League final. Overall, it makes sense to select her, especially as she can cover at centre-back.
Keira Walsh is a regular for England and that’s probably why she is there. Obviously, she will compete for the DM spot with Ingle. You can put forward a case that the three Welsh players (Ladd, James and Fishlock) could have been selected ahead of Walsh and Ingle, too.
Jill Scott was obviously competing with Jordan Nobbs for the number 8 shirt. Nobbs only managed 1344 minutes this season while Scott did 766 with City and 1150 with Everton. These two are very similar players, so saying Scott has a better set of skills than Nobbs is a choice that is debatable especially as Nobbs is more versatile and can also play as 7, 10 or 11, as seen with Arsenal.
Team GB needs a second centre-forward, and in Nikita Parris they have a player who saw a lot of game time with Lyon this season due to the Hegerberg injury situation. Beth England, unfortunately, has been a victim of competition for places at Chelsea with Kirby, Harder and Kerr selected regularly ahead of her and you cannot say Emma Hayes was wrong to do so.
Georgia Stanway is obviously a player that can play as a 10, as a 9 and at number 2 if needed. Erin Cuthbert and Beth Mead could have been selected too as they racked up at lot of playing time – 1888 minutes and 2081 respectively.
And then there are the choices that are a bit surprising:
Karen Bardsley, who has played 480 minutes with Man City this season before going on loan to OL Reign is deemed a better choice than all the other English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish goalkeepers. I do understand she has experienced the 2012 Olympics before and that might have been a key reason for taking her.
Demi Stokes, who has only played 1438 minutes with City this season and was not even in the starting 11 in terms of minutes played for her club. She has been selected ahead of Greenwood, who is versatile and has played 2678 minutes for City.
Overall, it is a team that should compete for a bronze medal, at least.
Can they do better and gel very quickly? With that in mind, it does make sense to have 11 City players as the coaching staff does not have much time to integrate the non-English players.
With two friendlies maximum, it is not an easy feat to build from scratch.
On the Arsenal side, it means those three players will miss most of pre-season.
That is not good news to be missing more than a third of the squad as the Olympics don’t finish until August 6 and the Champions League qualifiers round 1 will be played on August 18 and 21.