NORWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Craig Bellamy of Liverpool gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on April 28, 2012 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
We've expected it for some time now, and with David Beckham's hopes of being Team GB's captain at the Summer Olympics ending yesterday it seems more certain than ever: Craig Bellamy is going to the olympics. Less discussed so far but perhaps more concerning for Liverpool fans is that he likely won't be the only player the club loses to the London games.
Club concerns aside, inclusion seems certain to be a great personal achievement for the Welshman, who will be included on Stuart Pearce's squad as one of three overage players alongside Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards. Originally there had been a widespread belief that Beckham's inclussion was as certain as that of the other two elder statesmen, but a need to plug gaps in defence forced Pearce to drop one of the trio, and in the end Richards in place of Beckham was the call.
Besides cutting short Bellamy's (and Bellamy's knees') time away from competitive football this summer, his inclusion in the Olympic squad is likely to mean he misses the first two games of Europa League qualification. With the tournament set to kick off on July 25th and run until August 11th while Liverpool begin their long and winding European campaign with games on August 2nd and 9th, Bellamy's absence seems certain.
More than that, he's also likely to miss the bulk—and possibly, taking into account time before the tournament spent in Team GB's camp, all—of preseason, too, with the North American tour kicking off on July 21st in Toronto before heading to Boston for the second match on the same day the Olympic tournament begins. Should Team GB go deep, Liverpool's final pre-season game then comes the day after it ends when Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen visit Anfield on the 12th of August.
And while most of the talk in the British press as the Olympics approach has focused on Bellamy's potential role, the larger concern for Brendan Rodgers as he tries to prepare for his first season in charge of Liverpool Football Club is likely to be that Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates have both been named to Uruguay's 35-man shortlist. Whether both are included in the final 18 will be confirmed by July 6th at the latest, but as of now the expectation is that both will be going.
Having Coates and Bellamy involved in Liverpool's pre-season, both to integrate into Rodgers' new system and to allow the new boss to develop a full understanding of the talent he has on hand, would of course be preferable. Aside from the added wear on Bellamy, though, their absences are unlikely to do any serious long-term harm to hopes for a fruitful 2012-12 campaign. However, not having Suarez around from the beginning as Rodgers begins to work on rebuilding Liverpool into a pass and move side would be a much more serious concern.
Especially considering Liverpool's front-loaded fixture list that sees games against Arsenal and Manchester City in the first month of the season, Suarez heading to London as one of Uruguay's three overage players would be blow for Rodgers and the club, with disgruntled fans and sponsors on Liverpool's pre-season tour the least of their concerns.