There are hopes of a British women's football team playing at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The English Football Association (FA) is hopeful that Great Britain will send a women's football team to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

British men's and women's teams played at their home London 2012 Games but infighting between the four UK nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - prevented a bid for Rio 2016.

All four nations compete separately in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have expressed fears that a combined team would threaten their autonomy.

All three quashed any idea of a joint team appearing in Brazil, even though the women earned a place thanks to England finishing third at the Women's World Cup in Canada last year.

FA participation and development director Kelly Simmons said missing the opportunity to build on the performance in Canada at Rio 2016 was a "massive blow" 

"Here we are still working hard to promote the game, build a new fanbase and take it to new audiences, and those big events are really critical in that," she said to the Press Association at St George's Park, England's national training centre.

Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke was one of just two non-English players in Britain's women's squad for London 2012 ©Getty Images
Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke was one of just two non-English players in Britain's women's squad for London 2012 ©Getty Images

It is hoped that the election of new FIFA President Gianni Infantino might ease fears of the individual nations losing their status.

"'It's too late now for this tournament, but what we definitely would want to discuss with the key stakeholders is if we qualify for Tokyo is there somehow a way for us to play?," said Simmons.

"It's just so important for the women's game."

The women's squad at London 2012 only featured two non-English players, Scottish defender Ifeoma Dieke and her midfield compatriot Kim Little.

Their run in the tournament was ended in the quarter-finals by eventual bronze medallists Canada, who triumphed 2-0 at the City of Coventry Stadium.

The men's squad, meanwhile, included five Welsh players - Ryan Giggs, Neil Taylor, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Craig Bellamy.

They were also knocked out in the quarter-finals, on penalties to South Korea.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs viewed the London participation as a "one-off" as it was a home Games.