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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Joe Allen dismisses Liverpool FC rumours to concentrate on Olympics



The £15m rated Wales midfielder is a wanted man with his former Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers keen to take him to Liverpool.
The Swans have turned down a £12.5m bid but are bracing themselves for a second offer for a player with three years remaining on a four-year deal.
But now Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly entered the race to sign the 22-year-old who has got the nod for Team GB at the Olympics ahead of Wales captain Aaron Ramsey.
For new Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas it would be a spectacular coup as he has already beaten Rodgers to the signature of former Swans loanee Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer.
Such speculation over a big move can turn a footballer’s head, yet Allen has been one of the stand-out performers for Stuart Pearce’s side so far at London 2012.
Perhaps that is why the Narberth product with the top-of-the-range Premier League passing stats is being chased by some of the biggest names in the English game.
Allen was once more finding space with ease at Wembley on Sunday night as Team GB revived their gold medal hopes with a 3-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates.
But he wasn’t so open when he was asked about his future after the final whistle.
“I am here representing Team GB at the moment – that is all my focus is on,” said Allen.
“Playing well in the Olympics and doing as well for Team GB as possible.”
Welsh footballers – from Team GB skipper Ryan Giggs to opening-day goalscorer Craig Bellamy – have found themselves in the Olympic spotlight at London 2012 for ‘political reasons’.
But few have had a more eventful time than Allen who has enhanced his burgeoning reputation over the past few weeks.
Having suffered an injury scare in the 1-1 opening draw with Senegal at Old Trafford, he helped pull the strings alongside Giggs and the returning Ramsey against the UAE.
“I have recovered fine after that first game” he said.
“I was able to get a full 90 minutes and it was fantastic to get that first win for Team GB.
“We learned from not closing out the game against Senegal after taking the lead and we scored those two second half goals.”
Allen also unwittingly found himself in controversy after Olympic organisers apologised for describing him as English in the Team GB programme.
New programmes were immediately printed in time for the UAE match.
“I’m sure that caused a bit of a storm and I did hear a little whisper about that,” he smiled.
“But they made sure they corrected that for the next game.”
However, the issue of nationality has refused to go away with Wales providing five members of Pearce’s 18-man squad.
The quintet have been singled out for not singing ‘God Save the Queen’ and it’s an issue which will rumble on ahead of tomorrow night’s final group game against Uruguay in Cardiff.
But Allen, a fluent Welsh speaker, defended the controversial decision not to sing the anthem.
“We don’t sing the anthem but we do respect it and there is not a problem,” he said.
“We are all here representing Team GB and we are proud of that.
“We are concentrating on what is happening on the field.”
There are even fears that some sections of the Cardiff crowd will boo the anthem but Allen echoed the words of Giggs by saying he hopes that doesn’t happen.
“I hope people don’t choose to boo the anthem and I hope it won’t be a problem,” he said.
“I don’t think I have to send out any direct message to the fans though.
“They know they are coming out to support Team GB and everybody expects that to be the case.
“It will be very special to play in Cardiff, it is my home country and I am sure the support will be as good as it has been everywhere else.
“We will have played in three incredible stadiums and football venues.
“Playing at Wembley was a fantastic occasion and you can’t ask for more than that.
“We enjoyed it and the fans were right behind us. Hopefully it will be rounded off nicely playing at Cardiff.”
And despite all the controversy surrounding the Team GB side (with the home associations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales against the principle for fear that it would jeopardise their independent status) Allen insists he is benefiting from playing at a major tournament.
“It has been an incredible experience to play in top level matches like this,” he said.
“I am loving the whole experience and feel privileged to be a part of it.”
And Allen believes Team GB can push on for a medal bid as after setting up a final pool showdown with Uruguay, who boast Liverpool striker Luis Suraz.
“We might only need a draw to go through but we won’t go in with that mentality,” he said.
“We are improving with every game we play and we knew it would take a while.
“They have got world-class players in their team and we have to be on top of our game.
“But we have got the players to progress in this competition and I would like to think other teams are looking at us and thinking that.”

By Gareth Griffiths
Font http://www.walesonline.co.uk



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