Team GB News
Team GB: Potential Gamechangers
A look at four players that could make all the difference to Team GB throughout their Olympic campaign.
By Charlotte Stacey
Team GB will kick off their Olympic campaign against Chile, the first competition of Group E, on Wednesday 21st July at 8:30am (BST) (4:30pm local time).
With a squad now made up of twenty-two, boss Hege Riise has plenty of gas in the tank to guide her team through the group stage. Amongst the chosen the cohort are Lionesses and Manchester City skipper Steph Houghton, Wales captain Sophie Ingle and Fifa’s Player of the Year Lucy Bronze.
Team GB boasts a side of individual talent, yet with nineteen players hailing from the recently underperforming Lionesses, whether this group unites cohesively will remain to be seen.
Below we take a look at four players that could make all the difference throughout the campaign, Team GB’s potential gamechangers:
With such a hectic schedule rotation will be essential in keeping the squad at the top of their game. It is for this reason that Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly could very well prove to be one of Riise’s most important selections. Although Daly is known for her impactful presence and avid drive, it is her versatility that will be key for Team GB.
Typically situated along the front line for club, yet as a fullback for country, Daly is able to operate in attack, in defence and anywhere in between. She is adaptable to almost an extreme degree and readily brings the required components to each position she is charged with. Daly’s understanding of each role and her ability to ‘tweak’ her skillset to match means she slots in without fuss. Yet wherever she is placed, Daly retains her trademark zeal, an optimistic approach that will be much needed to offset the intense nature of the games.
Arsenal skipper Kim Little has been named as one of Team GB’s three captains, a nod to her impeccable on field governance. It is noted that Little is not the most vocal of leaders, however there is good reason for it, she simply does not need to be.
“Leading by example” may be shamefully overused on occasion, but in this case, it is a rather well-fitting description. Ever unruffled by circumstance, Little is wise with reaction and, with the utmost professionalism, keeps a lid on the situation as not to detriment those around her.
Little is a player that likes to let her feet do the talking. Navigating the middle third with keen judgement, she is in tune with the movements of the individual and the intent of the collective. Such is Little’s skill in comprehending the most beneficial move to make, she will be one of the most influential players on the pitch, yet one of the most difficult to read.
Manchester City’s Georgia Stanway possibly flies under the radar a little too often. At 22 Stanway already has a breadth of domestic and international experience under her belt and has long established herself as an asset to club and country.
Stanway brings an awful lot to the table. Her taste for attacking, vigorous work ethic and gutsy attitude mean she spices up the mix when play stagnates. However, Stanway’s game development is what really sets her up as one of Team GB’s greatest strengths.
Generally speaking, Stanway plays higher up the field and can effectively manage the width of the pitch in all forward positions. However, she has also had promising stints in more defensive roles as a right back and as a holding midfielder. Her trials in each area have shown an evident and increasing discipline in position; an adaptable range that is well desired in this type of demanding tournament.
Rewinding to the original Olympic schedule of July 2020, we find ourselves in a time in which it is highly likely that Fran Kirby would not have made the cut. Spending much of the previous season on the side lines due to a severe case of Pericarditis, Kirby herself questioned whether she would step foot on the pitch again.
Yet rising from the cinders of uncertainty, Kirby has established herself as one of the deadliest assistants around. Although arguably most effectively positioned in the number 10 role, Kirby has spent much of the domestic season at Chelsea occupying the right side of the forward line. Whether this is has been as a support mechanism to a lone striker or in tandem, Kirby has supplied creation with a masterful game.
With the confidence and competence to draw in defenders without compromising possession, Kirby can often act as a ‘decoy’, gifting others the time to infiltrate lines. This becomes especially valuable when facing teams that are defensive by nature. Simply, one cannot leave Kirby exposed, yet in closing her down space is opened up elsewhere. Further to this, Kirby is also a prominent goal scorer, netting 25 goals across all competitions this season. With her deviant movement and faultless finishing, Kirby will undoubtably be a critical addition to the squad.