• London Olympics 2012

Rooney set for Olympic role

Harry Harris, ESPNsoccernet
January 12, 2011
Wayne Rooney has not been on top form for Manchester United this season, but is being lined up for a key role at the 2012 Olympics. © PA Photos

Wayne Rooney has been earmarked as one of the three over-age players for the Great Britain Olympic team.

FIFA rules stipulate that Olympic teams must contain just three players over the age of 23, and Lord Coe recently suggested that David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard would be the leading candidates for London 2012.

However, an FA source told ESPNsoccernet: "The main man will be Wayne Rooney as an over-age player.

"The call-up for Rooney will indicate how seriously it is being taken - that we all want the GB team to have a crack at going for the gold medal. Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard would all be very old over-age players, but Rooney is the player who could help the GB team become winners."

Any effort to take top players from their clubs is likely to be met with strong opposition as they would miss the start of the 2012-13 season. There have been problems in the past with the likes of Lionel Messi and Kaka called up for the Olympics and, to placate clubs, the FA is working on a plan to limit the number of players called up from each Premier League club to limit the disruption at the start of the season.

At present, talks are ongoing with other home nations in a bid to convince them to join the Great Britain team. Wales star Gareth Bale is viewed as a key player for the side, but so far none of the home nations have expressed a desire to participate for fear of prejudicing their places within FIFA and UEFA.

A manager has not yet been selected for the team and, while Harry Redknapp, Roy Hodgson, and even Sir Alex Ferguson have been touted for the role, England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce appears to be the leading candidate.

The FA's plan has always to appoint from within, although someone like Beckham could well play a role among the backroom team.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.