OL Reign goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain squad selected for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as a result of a hamstring injury.
Bardsley joined Reign on loan from Manchester City for the 2021 NWSL season, having previously lost her place at City thanks to prior injury problems and the emergence of Ellie Roebuck.
The 36-year-old’s inclusion in the GB squad chosen by interim England manager Hege Riise did come as a surprise, but she brought masses of tournament experience to the group and was a veteran of the 2012 Olympics on home soil alongside a handful of others.
However, a hamstring injury now denies Bardsley, who was born and raised in the United States but has over 80 senior England caps, the chance to go to a second Olympic tournament.
Bardsley is likely to be replaced in the 18-player GB squad by Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, who was named on the reserve list when the main squad was announced.
The reserve players train and travel with the squad and can be subbed into the main group at any time during the tournament in the event of injury to one of the 18.
If MacIver is promoted to the full squad, as expected, she will need to be replaced on the reserve list. Her place will mostly likely to go to Chelsea’s Carly Telford, who has been at an England training camp this month and was on Riise’s original 35-player preliminary list.
Birmingham’s Hannah Hampton and emerging Manchester United youngster Emily Ramsey were the other goalkeepers at that five-day camp. Neither was on the original preliminary list, although working directly with Riise could put either of them, especially Hampton, in contention.
The Olympic tournament is due to kick off on 21 July, with GB’s first game against Chile that day. They will then face Japan and Canada on 24 July and 27 July respectively and will hope to go further than the quarter-final exit they managed nine years ago in search of a medal.