Great Britain are the 6/1 third favourites to take gold in the Olympic football betting, but their chances have been hit by a hammer blow with Gareth Bale already ruling himself out of the tournament.
Bale has always spoken highly of being involved and has even been photographed wearing the Team GB supporters’ shirt.
However, he is reported to have irritated an old hip and back problem during training ahead of the new season and has already told Stuart Pearce that he will not be available for selection.
There are even doubts that he will be ready for Tottenham’s Premier League opener away at Newcastle in August.
Bale’s decision follows that of fellow Tottenham star Kyle Walker, who was forced out of England’s squad for Euro 2012 because of injury and is another that will not have recovered in time.
The only good news for Pearce is that his over-age squad inclusions will be capable of filling both voids.
Both Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs are able to play on the left of midfield to replace Bale, while Micah Richards will play at right-back and was arguably unlucky not to be picked for the same position at Euro 2012.
Pearce is set to name his final squad on Monday and will be praying that nobody else picks up any last-minute injuries in the coming few days to deplete his squad further.
Among the players expected to gain a call up are Manchester United’s Tom Cleverly and Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and with the Olympics only coming around every four years, it is unlikely that players will turn down the opportunity to appear.
The only guarantee thus far is that the final 18 members of the squad will be from either England or Wales, although some Scottish players were named on the initial 35-man shortlist.