Team GB's Olympic squad: Predicting the 18 players heading to Tokyo 2020

Caroline Weir Steph Houghton Sophie Ingle Scotland England Wales women split
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Players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be available to represent the team in Japan, but who is in contention?

Team GB will take a women's football team to the Olympics this summer for only the second time in history, with players from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all competing for a ticket to Tokyo.

On top of the Games being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the British Olympic Association (BOA) still has not confirmed which coach will lead the team.

With only a few months until the tournament is set to begin though, things are starting to become a lot clearer not only in that regard, but also in which footballers will represent Great Britain in Japan.

What has been said?

Baroness Sue Campbell, the Football Association's Director of Women's Football, speaking in February, talked about what the coaches will be looking for in players for the Team GB women's football team.

"Physical condition is going to be absolutely key. The fact that people need to be playing week in and week out is really important to us," she explained.

"The second part of what we're looking at is mental toughness and mental resilience. That ability to cope with a result that perhaps wasn't quite where you wanted, or the fact you didn't get off the bench or whatever.

"Thirdly, we really want to make sure that people are versatile. When we go into the Olympics, we will only have a squad of 18, which is much smaller than we'd normally have. Those factors are really critical in terms of the selection that we do now for camp and the selection we do going forward."

Campbell revealed there is currently a long list of around 50 players, as of February. That list will be cut to around 30 players before the final 18 names are submitted in May.

Which players are in contention?

The Team GB squad will mostly be made up of England players, given they are ranked higher than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, there is still plenty of talent within those nations.

From Scotland, Chelsea's Erin Cuthbert, Manchester City's Caroline Weir and the Arsenal trio of Lisa Evans, Kim Little and Jen Beattie will be the main names in the mix. Wales have talented midfielders in Reading's Jess Fishlock, Manchester United's Hayley Ladd and Chelsea's Sophie Ingle. Northern Ireland's star player is Liverpool midfielder Rachel Furness, while striker Simone Magill is also playing well across Merseyside, at Everton.

Weir has been one of the stand-out players in the Women's Super League this season and would provide the team with a wicked left foot, which England do not have many of.

Caroline Weir Manchester City Women 2020-21

Cuthbert and Ingle could both suffer from not playing week-in, week-out at Chelsea, such is the depth of their squad. Little, Evans and Beattie have also not played as regularly as usual at Arsenal due to injuries.

Within the England squad, there are a number of names heavily expected to go to Japan. Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck; defenders Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Millie Bright; midfielder Keira Walsh; the versatile Fran Kirby; and forwards Chloe Kelly, Nikita Parris and Ellen White are among those.

Everton's Sandy MacIver and Birmingham's Hannah Hampton will compete for the second goalkeeper spot. Rachel Daly's versatility should aid her push for a spot, with Leah Williamson leading the remaining centre-back candidates, being challenged by Arsenal team-mate Lotte Wubben-Moy in particular. Alex Greenwood's regular game time as both a centre-back and a left-back this season could also work to her advantage.

It would be a huge surprise to see striker Beth England left out, despite her not starting every week at Chelsea. The same can be said of Jill Scott, who has joined Everton on loan for the second half of the season after limited minutes at Man City.

Wingers Lauren Hemp, Beth Mead and Alessia Russo, who is facing a race against time after injury, will all be hopeful of staking their claim for one of the final spots among the forwards.

Competition in midfield across the home nations is especially interesting, with Ingle, Ladd, Fishlock, Little and Weir competing with Jordan Nobbs, Ella Toone and Georgia Stanway for tickets on the plane.

Who will be the coach?

Phil Neville was set to lead the Team GB women's football team to the Olympics, but he left his role as England head coach in January in order to take the same role with MLS club Inter Miami.

Hege Riise, an Olympic gold medallist with Norway in Sydney in 2000, was subsequently announced as Neville's temporary replacement, with her on a contract until August. After then, Sarina Wiegman will take over as England head coach.

The FA will decide after February whether Riise will stay in her interim role with England or if it will bring in further coaching support. The coach who will lead Team GB will also be decided after February, as the staffing list must be submitted at the beginning of March, with Riise to go with the team either as head coach or as an assistant.

Predicted squad

Goalkeepers : Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Sandy MacIver (Everton).

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Defenders : Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash).

Midfielders : Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Caroline Weir (Manchester City), Jill Scott (Everton), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal).

Forwards : Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Lyon), Ellen White (Manchester City), Beth England (Chelsea).

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