Wales the winners in GB success - Dean Saunders
DEAN Saunders reckons the Olympics have been great for Welsh football — but not Swansea City's pre-season plans.
Joe Allen, Neil Taylor and Scott Sinclair could again all be involved when Team GB meet South Korea in an Olympic quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium tonight.
All three have already played an important part in the side's progression through the group stage.
Taylor has won a string of new admirers with consistently impressive performances at full-back.
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Allen supplied the killer pass for Daniel Sturridge's decisive goal against Uruguay on Wednesday to cap several eye-catching midfield displays.
And Sinclair also showed up well against the South Americans in his first GB start. That followed Sunday's victory over the UAE during which he scored 52 seconds after leaving the bench.
Along with Taylor and Allen, Aaron Ramsey, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs are other Welsh members of Stuart Pearce's squad.
The former Liverpool striker is one of generations of Wales players who never played at a major tournament finals.
And he believes this experience can only benefit Allen and Co.
"I think it's been especially good for Welsh football," said the Doncaster manager.
"For Neil Taylor, Joe Allen, Craig Bellamy, Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Giggs, it's been amazing.
"Two years ago Neil was playing for me with Wrexham in the Conference, and Joe was there on loan as well.
"To achieve what they have done since then has been amazing. This tournament is a great opportunity for them."
But Saunders believes Michael Laudrup will be less excited about Swansea players' involvement.
Allen was already being linked to Liverpool before the Games began, while Taylor and Sinclair have also since become the subject of transfer speculation.
Swansea are gearing up for a second crack at the Premier League and Saunders thinks Laudrup will want his players focused on that rather than reaching the last four of the Olympics.
"The Swansea players are playing and training at the moment, so they will be sharp when the season starts," said Saunders.
"It's not only about being physically sharp but getting in the right frame of mind.
"Playing competitively helps as well, so the Swansea lads should come back in excellent shape.
"The one person who will be frustrated is Michael Laudrup. He'll feel like he can't prepare properly until his players are back.
"Laudrup will be praying his players come back unscathed and, in the meantime, he'll be quite frustrated not to be able to work with them."
After a patchy warm-up performance against Brazil, Team GB remained unbeaten through the group games.
If they can also beat South Korea, Pearce's men are guaranteed the chance to play for a medal.
"I think it's been great. Everybody was unsure how it would go, but it's been a success so far," added Saunders. "They looked a little disjointed when they played their friendly against Brazil but since then they've got stronger and stronger.
"It's been great to see the whole country — the whole of Britain — getting behind Team GB."
Dean Saunders is a football ambassador for Locog.