Wigan duo’s Olympic dream

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

GARY Caldwell and Ben Watson are in the running to represent Team GB at this summer’s Olympic Games – something Roberto Martinez admits is a concern.

The Wigan duo made the cut when Stuart Pearce clipped his provisional pool from 191 players to 80, and face an anxious wait to discover whether they will make the final 22-man squad which will be announced next month.

Although the tournament is predominantly for Under-23 talent, each nation is allowed three over-age players to ensure the necessary guidance and experience – which is where Watson and Caldwell would come in.

While it would undoubtedly be a coup for the club to have representation on the biggest stage of all, it would also hamper Martinez’s preparations for next term.

The final is scheduled to take place just a week before the start of next season’s Premier League – and the Latics chief says it will require a great deal of thought before he gives the green light.

“Gary and Ben have been named in the pre-selection squads, and we are waiting to hear whether they have made the final cut,” said Martinez.

“The laws say you cannot stop an under-23 player joining the Olympic team. Those are the rules. If they are over 23, though, then it’s the decision of the football club to allow them to play.

“So I will look at individual cases, because you have got some players who been playing so much football that it looks to be impossible.

“I will never stop a player who is fully fit from playing in the Olympic Games, but it could be that some players need six weeks of recovery – which will make it physically impossible.”

The players themselves are keen to be involved, with Maynor Figueroa also expected to be called-up by Honduras.

But Martinez says there will be no room for sentiment when it comes to making the decision.

“I know how proud Ben is, and it would be a great opportunity for them both to play in the Olympics, but it’s too early to tell,” Martinez added.

“We have got other players who could be involved as well, such as Maynor Figueroa, although Ali Al Habsi is now not going to be involved after Oman got knocked out.

“Once the squad is reduced, then we’ll look individually.”

Meanwhile, Martinez has poured cold water on tabloid speculation suggesting he is being lined up by Greek side Olympiakos at the end of the season.

“I’m not going to comment now, I find the stories a little bit out of time,” he added.

“We have three crucial games coming up, it’s a critical moment in our history.

“Nothing is going to distract us from that.”