LOCOG hoping Beckham makes Olympic cut

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With 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, one the summer's minor events, the football tournament, took centre stage today with the news that heartthrob David Beckham has been retained in the preliminary Team GB squad for the competition.

The original 191-man shortlist for the competition was cut to 80 this week, with Beckham, who if selected would hold one of the three over-23 places, making the cut.

Other over-23 players to be selected at this stage include England's Joe Cole, Northern Ireland's Chris Brunt, Scotland's Steven Fletcher and Wales' Craig Bellamy.

Gareth Bale, Jack Butland, Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Clyne are other names in the shortlist, which will be cut to 35 by June 8 and then to the final squad of 18 by July 6.

Cue a myriad of quotes from Beckham about captaining Team GB this summer, and about his pride at potentially featuring in the event he assisted in bringing to our shores, and you've got the perfect cocktail for selling tickets to an event which has failed to capture the imagination.

The fact of the matter is that while Stuart Pearce may have 100% jurisdiction over the selection process, the London organising committee can't afford not to have Beckham involved, with 1.5 million tickets still to sell.

While the great attraction of other Olympic events is seeing the likes of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer in action for perhaps the first time, the selling point for the football should be to draw attention to who could be competing.

So naturally, the man who has sold everything from pants to second-hand cars, is being used as the figure-head to shift nearly two-thirds of the remaining tickets.

As ever, excitement surrounding each event will swell, and the warm up games involving Team GB are likely to get the pulses racing. A welcome boost is the realisation from Britain's Football Association's that little can be done to prevent their players from participating. Their recent silence on the issue is deafening.

But the opportunity to see Beckham in the flesh, perhaps for the last time on English soil, is an opportunity that few supporters are likely to pass up. Without him in the team that task is made all the more difficult. LOCOG are unlikely to allow Pearce to forget.

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David Beckham

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