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Northern Ireland and Celtic bosses prepared to release players for Team GB

Northern Ireland coach Nigel Worthington and Celtic boss Neil Lennon would be happy for any of their players to participate in the London 2012 Olympics. The British Olympic Association released a statement saying players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be eligible to represent Team GB at the Games, only for the Irish Football Association to join their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in registering their condemnation of such plans.

"The players will have their own views on whether they want to be involved in a GB team at the Olympics and whatever their view is should have no impact on their international careers," Worthington told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I can understand players wanting to play in an Olympics and they should not be criticised for that but I also understand the position taken by the Irish FA.

"It is not an issue that I am really involved in as it's a matter for the associations and they have made their positions clear.

"As an international manager I would have no problem with players wanting to be involved."

Neil Lennon would have no problem with any of his Celtic players appearing - but admits the prospect would not have appealed to him when he was a player.

The Northern Irishman said: "Ultimately it wouldn't be my decision but I wouldn't stand in any player's way.

"If the players wanted to go and participate in it I wouldn't have a problem with it.

"It's a hypothetical question I suppose. I would probably have to have dialogue with the SFA and I would respect their views, obviously, and I would have to respect the players' views."

Asked whether he would have wanted to be involved, Lennon added: "Probably not. I think that is important (the home nations' autonomy) but I think the Olympics, traditionally, should be an amateur sport.

"I know it has changed quite a great deal over the last three or four Olympics but I don't feel professional soccer should be an Olympic sport. It wouldn't have appealed to me really."

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Dave Williams

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