The England Women’s squad for the Ata Holding Hockey Champions Challenge in Baku, Azerbaijan has been announced. England will play in the six team tournament between 9-17 June and will face hosts Azerbaijan, China, Korea, New Zealand and the USA.
The squad includes 12 players who were involved in England’s World Cup campaign in October 2006 which saw the team finish in seventh spot and sees the return of Leicester’s Anne Panter after four years out of the international scene having been plagued by injuries. Her last appearance in a major tournament was in the 2003 EuroHockey Nations Championships.
Ten of the selected players were involved in England’s last Champions Challenge campaign in 2005 in Virginia Beach, USA, when England finished in fourth place after losing out 2-1 to Japan in the Bronze medal play-off.
This will be the first major tournament for Hayley Brown – the squad’s youngest player – and Hannah MacLeod. Canterbury’s Hayley Brown picked up her first and only international cap against World Champions The Netherlands in November last year and Leicester’s Hannah MacLeod, having made her debut at the age of 19 in 2003, only picked up three England caps before being selected in this year’s Champions Challenge squad.
Kerry Williams and Becky Herbert both have exam commitments and as a result have not been selected. Injury rehabilitation has been prioritized for Lucilla Wright, Jennie Bimson and Helen Grant which has meant they are unavailable for selection.
England, ranked 11th in the World, will begin their campaign on Saturday 9 June against New Zealand who were winners of the last Champions Challenge in 2005. They will then play Korea, the USA and Azerbaijan – for the first ever time – before concluding the round robin matches against the highest ranked team in the tournament, China on 16 June. The classification matches will take place on 17 June.
Head Coach Danny Kerry said “This will be the first time that the squad has physically been together for a relatively long period of time and we are looking forward to getting into the full swing of the senior international program. The Champions Challenge tournament this year will be particularly tough with a number of top nations such as China, Korea and New Zealand and I am looking forward to giving a significant opportunity to a number of players.”
Selection England: Katy Roberts (GK), Lisa Wooding, Crista Cullen, Mel Clewlow, Helen Richardson, Jo Ellis, Kate Walsh, Chloe Rogers, Rachel Walker, Alex Danson, Alex Scott, Sally Walton, Hannah Macleod, Jo Ellis, Cathy Gilliat-Smith, Becky Duggan (GK), Anne Panter, Hayley Brown.
Source: England Hockey
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