This morning Hege Riise and Team GB surprised many by replacing the injured Karen Bardsley with Chelsea’s Carly Telford. The surprise being that Sandy MacIver had already been named as the first reserve goalkeeper, so this is a real kick in the teeth for MacIver.
Telford has experience of tournament football, having helped England reach the semi-finals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – a feat which secured GB Football their spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next month.
While on loan at OL Reign from Manchester City, Bardsley suffered an injury in the NWSL match against Washington Spirit last month. She said, “After a difficult road back to fitness and form, being selected for Tokyo felt like the greatest achievement, but to be forced to withdraw feels devastatingly cruel.”
On Bardsley’s loss, Riise said, “Losing Karen is a big blow for us – but more importantly for her. She has been an incredible international goalkeeper for many years and her presence in the squad would have also helped the younger players in the group. Of course, this is football and this means an opportunity for someone else to take. The group are very positive about the challenge ahead and can’t wait to get started.”
Telford told the press, “This is an amazing honour, although I really feel for KB and send her all my best wishes for her speedy recovery. The goalkeepers’ union is not a cliché – although we are competing to play we always want each other to do well. I am so disappointed for her but of course tremendously proud to get the chance to play at an Olympic Games. It is an incredible honour and I will give it all I can.”
On the by-passing of MacIver head coach, Hege Riise said, “We are very fortunate to be able to call on a goalkeeper of Carly’s pedigree. Losing Karen was a blow of course but her selection was always a close call with Carly, given they both have such strong reputations. Carly is a leader and she will be a big asset for us and what we are hoping to achieve.”
It is all rather unfortunate that this news is released on MacIver’s birthday. For me, this move is a mistake, not because I don’t think Telford has anything to offer but because I don’t think that she has played anywhere near enough minutes to justify inclusion – three matches compared to MacIver’s eighteen.
The Olympics should be a competition for those at the peak of their game. I have been impressed by what I have seen from the Everton keeper this season and I don’t think that there are many who’d disagree with me that she is the most deserving of that place in the squad. I appreciate that Riise places a lot of importance on experience within her squad but I believe that experience and guidance could come from the coaches and outfield teammates.
MacIver has every right to feel aggrieved by this selection and while Riise is entitled to change her mind depending on the circumstances, it makes a mockery of the reserve list. Team GB would have been better off not making the reserve list public.