June 20 2013 Latest news:
Nathaniel John, West Ham Correspondent
Thursday, July 5, 2012
West Ham defender to represent his country at London 2012
West Ham defender James Tomkins has been named in the Team GB football squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The centre-back impressed with outstanding performances last season and was rewarded with a place in the final 18-man squad by head coach and former Hammer Stuart Pearce.
Tomkins, who has been capped by England at every age-group level, was excited to have been chosen to represent Great Britain and looks forward to playing with some former club-mates.
“I am just delighted to have been included and obviously it is a great honour to be selected for such an occasion as the Olympic Games,” he said.
“A lot of the boys I have played with before with England, so it will be good to spend some time with them again.
“It will also be great to play alongside Craig Bellamy again, my former team-mate when he was at West Ham.
“He’s a great player and a proper character. Ryan Giggs is a legend of the game, so it would be fantastic to play alongside him too.”
Tomkins is currently in Austria with the rest of the West Ham squad on a pre-season trip, but the 23-year-old will link up with Team GB next week.
And despite missing some of West Ham’s pre-season, the defender is confident that he will prove his fitness in Team GB colours instead.
“Obviously I will miss some of the pre-season (for West Ham), but I will be training every day and hopefully playing regularly,” he said.
“With an 18-man squad there should be chances for everyone to play. It’s the first time in more than 50 years that Team GB has taken part in the Olympics so it is something I and all the other players I am sure, are looking forward to.
“I am grateful to West Ham for giving me the opportunity to represent Great Britain at the Olympics and I’ll do my very best to represent the club.”
Assistant Hammers boss Neil McDonald, who is overseeing the first-team’s visit to Austria, gave Tomkins the club’s blessing to take part in the Games.
“It’s fantastic news that he has been selected for Team GB and great for him being a local lad that he’ll be taking part in an Olympics in his own back yard,” he said.
“It will be a great experience and he should be fully fit when he returns to us in August.
“He was great all last season and as long as he doesn’t get himself injured, we’ll be delighted to see him out there representing Team GB in the Olympic Games.”
Meanwhile, Pablo Barrera has left West Ham and returned to his native Mexico having signed for Cruz Azul.
The winger joined the Hammers two years ago, but started just six Premier League games in 2010-11 before making two appearances at the start of the following season in the Championship and Carling Cup.
He was loaned out to Real Zaragoza for the rest of the 2011-12 campaign, but has since agreed a deal in his homeland having been given permission to speak to other clubs by the Hammers.
Another departure from Upton Park is that of Marek Stech.
Czech Republic under-21 keeper Stech spent six years with the club after arriving at the age of 16 from Sparta Prague.
Stech made three first-team appearances in the Carling Cup during the 2010-2011 season and has left the club by mutual consent.