Exclusive: Hodgson's choice opens up London 2012 football road to Rio
Sunday, 20 May 2012
May 20 - Rio Ferdinand, "gutted" at being omitted from England's UEFA European Championship squad by manager Roy Hodgson, is set to be thrown an international lifeline with a place in Britain's 2012 Olympic football team.
I understand Team GB football manager Stuart Pearce is now keen to include the 33-year-old Manchester United defender as one of three permitted over-age players, alongside United team-mate Ryan Giggs and, almost inevitably, David Beckham, both 37.
The move would be a consolation to Ferdinand (pictured top), especially as it enables Pearce to appoint him as an experienced captain.
He is known to be reluctant to give Beckham the role, although the former England captain is certain to be included.
However, there is some irony to the situation as it is not only Hodgson's controversial preference for Chelsea's John Terry that frees up Ferdinand for 2012, but the enforced lifting of the lifetime ban from the Games imposed for drugs offences by the British Olympic Association (BOA).
Ferdinand had been subject to this because of the eight months suspension imposed by the Football Association in 2003 when he missed a dope test.
However he is now eligible to compete in London alongside sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar.
Pearce names his mainly under 23 squad next month with the possibility that all three likely overage players - Ferdinand, Giggs and Beckham - will have a Manchester United connection.
Such is London 2012's apparent obsession with ambassadorial flame-minder Beckham (pictured above) as a global icon that, despite London 2012 head Sebastian Coe's - and Beckham's own - assertion that there is no pressure to pick him other than on merit, his selection is a no-brainer.
Indeed, the odds are already being laid on Beckham carrying the flag for Team GB at the Games' Opening Ceremony.
May 2012: "No pressure" on Team GB to pick Beckham, says Coe
May 2012: Disgruntled Coleman expects "three or four" Welsh footballers to represent Team GB at Olympics
May 2012: Celtic football star Forrest would put club before Team GB
May 2012: Exclusive - Welshman Robbie Savage backs united Team GB at London 2012
May 2012: Pearce to focus on Team GB for London 2012 following Roy Hodgson's England appointment