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Tokyo 2020

The Debate: Little by name, large on talent - midfielder a must for Team GB

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Kim Little of Arsenal and Scotland

Image credit: Getty Images

ByCarrie Dunn
21/04/2020 at 14:58 | Updated 21/04/2020 at 15:21
@carriesparkle

Each week, four writers will argue a set topic from Monday to Thursday before having their views picked apart in a vodcast on Friday. Today Carrie Dunn makes the case for Scotland's Kim Little to be the lynchpin of Team GB at the Olympics.

If you have Team GB competing at the Olympics, you need the very best players in that squad.

And the best player that Phil Neville has at his disposal is Scotland's Kim Little.

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The Arsenal captain shone for her nation at the Women's World Cup last summer, and it was only a ridiculously pernickety rule implementation that meant they didn't progress to the knock-out stages so she could enjoy more of the global spotlight.

Off the pitch, she is invariably calm, thoughtful, serious, recently taking her place on the Fifpro player council.

On the pitch, she's a dynamo, a firecracker, exquisite to watch, quick of thought and feet, steady of nerve.

She is loved by fans - and feared by opponents - around the world having also spent time at Seattle Reign and Melbourne City.

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When the 2012 Olympics rolled round and the possibility of a unified Team GB was mooted, Little was one of the first non-English players to hold her hand up and say she'd love to be part of it - a courageous thing to do bearing in mind the politics around it all.

She's done the same this time too - although in characteristically cautious fashion, telling reporters: "It's such a momentous occasion to play in or be a part of an Olympics, especially having been part of one in 2012. It's something I think about and I'm conscious of. But I know to get there I need to work extremely hard and push myself as much as I can to be playing at the best level to be given a chance."

Little's career has been blighted by some nasty injuries and some irritating ones - she is currently on her way back from foot surgery, so the season's hiatus is proving useful for her as she works on recovering full fitness in time to rejoin Arsenal's Champions' League campaign.

But she should be first on Phil Neville's team sheet if he casts his eyes around.

Don't just take my word for it.

"She's our captain and one of the best players in the world," team-mate Jordan Nobbs has said of her. "I think how she shows her professionalism on and off the pitch is great. She's a player that you would sign to play with. She is just such a key part of our team and I'm very honoured to play next to her."

“Kim Little is the most talented player I have ever played with,” USA legend Hope Solo has observed. "She is great at everything. Her passing and vision and technical skill are, I believe, the best in the world.”

A fully fit and firing Kim Little should be the crux round which any Team GB should be formed - that is, if they want success at the Olympic Games.

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