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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 30, 2009

England's Under-18s set for Olympics green light

FIFA are expected to approve the deal which would allow England to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics but hopes that Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott or even David Beckham could figure in the line-up are set to be dashed.

The world governing body's executive committee will be told of the details of an agreement which will see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland take no part in the Olympics but allow England to represent Team GB.

However, next week FIFA's Congress are expected to scrap current rules where players in the men's Olympic tournament must be under 23, with each team allowed three over-age players.

Instead, the proposed new rule is that players must be under 21 with no over-age players allowed.

That would mean a British team in 2012 would be have to be represented by players who are now eligible for the under-18s.

Ironically, it looks likely Arsenal - renowned for having so few British players in their current first team - would provide the core of the Olympic side.

Arsenal's gifted youths won the double this season - the Premier Academy League and the FA Youth Cup, where they beat Liverpool 6-2 on aggregate in the final.

English players in the Arsenal side who could feature in 2012 include 17-year-old midfield playmaker Jack Wilshere, who has already played some first-team games, plus a trio of 18-year-olds in Henri Lansbury, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and striker Sanchez Watt.

Liverpool's highly-rated youngsters include Tom Ince, a left winger who is the 17-year-old son of Paul Ince, as well as London-born 18-year-old David Amoo who can play on the right wing or up front.

Middlesbrough's renowned academy could also provide some players - their trio of Nathan Porritt, Jason Steele and Jonathan Franks all played in for England at the last FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

FIFA want to bring an end to the over-23 rule after Werder Bremen and Barcelona successfully challenged their obligation to release Diego and Lionel Messi for last summer's Olympics.

FIFA's executive committee decided afterwards the men's tournament should be limited to under-21s to avoid clashes with club matches.

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