LINEKER WANTS ROONEY IN OLYMPICS
Gary Lineker wants Wayne Rooney in the Great Britain squad at London 2012 and admits if he was the Manchester United striker he would be pestering Sir Alex Ferguson to let him play.
The 26-year-old performed with aplomb this season as his United side were just pipped to the Premier League crown by rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
That form is expected to see Rooney named in Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2012 despite the fact he will miss the first two matches through suspension.
It was announced in December that those selected for this summer's European Championship would not be selected for the Great Britain men's Olympic squad, but former England international Lineker would like to see an exception made for Rooney.
"It seems like [David] Beckham is a shoo-in and I would love to see somebody like Ryan Giggs chosen," Lineker said when asked who he would like to see as the three over-23 players in the squad.
"I don't know as it is hard to work out who is 23 and above.
"The thing is at the moment that we have got lots of really good young players and some very good old players, but the players in their prime [are not really a choice].
"Rooney will obviously go to the Euros and it would be a shame we couldn't play him because I'd like to see him.
"He is not going to play the first two games [at Euro 2012] anyway, and I know it's not going to happen but if I were Rooney I would knock on Sir Alex's door and say, 'Right, let me play as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in an Olympic Games in my own country - let me play in the Olympics'."
Much of the build-up to the London 2012 football tournament has revolved around the politics of the British team, with the football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland making their reservations clear.
Lineker, who will have a part in the BBC's Olympic coverage, hopes such talk will soon be forgotten, and believes football could be a surprise hit of the summer.
"I think it could well be one of the talking points of the Games," he said.
"Football has been in the Olympics since right at the start in the 1900s so it has been there a long time and Great Britain won gold way back when.
"I think it is great that we're in it and I think it is important.
"I think it is nonsense about political worries that FIFA are suddenly going to say, 'Now you've got to play as Great Britain rather than Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales'.
"I cannot ever envisage them doing that, especially when we have seen the break-up of the old Soviet Union, so why would they suddenly have to do that?
"I think their fears are fairly nonsensical in that regard and I think it would be great for someone like Ryan Giggs, who has never played in a major tournament in his life [with Wales].
"I think it could become one of the interesting sides to the Olympics and we all know how football-daft we are in this country, so if they start to do well there will be a national interest as there will be in all the other sports."
As well as looking ahead to London 2012, Match Of The Day presenter Lineker hit out at Joey Barton after the QPR midfielder attacked him on Twitter, in the wake of Barton's red card at Manchester City on Sunday.
The midfielder vented his anger at BBC pundit Alan Shearer and turned on the programme's presenter, leading Lineker to label the comments "scurrilous".
"He's said what he wants to say. That's fine," Lineker said. "It's scurrilous nonsense. I don't know what he's thinking of.
"I've had a good look around my house and in all the closets and all I found was packets of crisps. It's pie in the sky.
"He's doing what he does and you have to live with that."
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