The England Hockey Board has announced the England women’s indoor squad to compete at the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II in Slagelse, Denmark, from 20-22 January.
The squad contains a number of less familiar faces with the competition coinciding with the Great Britain women’s squad trip to Argentina for the Cordoba Four Nations Tournament and the FIH Champions Trophy.
None of the 12 athlete squad for Slagelse were present in Rouen two years ago as England swept into European hockey’s second tier on the back of four wins in their five matches, scoring an impressive 32 times and conceding just three in the course.
Five of the squad – Leicester goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, Reading pair Emma Thomas and Sam Quek, Olton & West Warkwicks’ Denise Marston-Smith and Beeston’s Hollie Webb – have previously played indoor international hockey while the remaining seven will make their indoor international debuts in Denmark, With a wealth of experience in the outdoor format as well, having been capped 116 times for England and Great Britain, Denise Marston-Smith will captain the squad at the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II.
In addition, Nicky O’Donnell and Abi Harper bring international experience from the outdoor stage as well as indoor experience with their clubs, Bowdon Hightown and Reading.
Before heading to Denmark, up to eight of the squad may be involved for their club sides in this weekend’s Maxifuel Super Sixes semi finals at Loughborough University. Nicky O’Donnell, who captained Bowdon Hightown to the title last season, led her side to the top of the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships Women’s Premier Division at the weekend and she faces the prospect of coming face-to-face with England’s Reading quartet Abi Walker, Sam Quek, Sarah Ellis and Emma Thomas in Saturday’s first semi final. Leicester trio Maddie Hinch, Katie Long and Hannah Smith are also likely to be involved on Saturday as Leicester look to overcome Sutton Coldfield and win a place in the showpiece Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals at Wembley Arena on Sunday 29 January.
Speaking about his selection, Nick Clark, Head Coach of the England women’s indoor squad, explained, “The squad is a mixture of experience and youth. With the centralised Great Britain athletes largely unavailable due to the clash with the Cordoba Four Nations Tournament and the Champions Trophy, Denise Marston Smith and Nicky O’Donnell were called into the squad in December to provide the team with some valuable indoor experience. Both have proved to be useful assets at our training sessions and during the training camp in Poland before Christmas.
“Some of the players are what you might call ‘indoor specialists’ while some have also previously played international hockey, either at senior level or for the Under 21 team. Alice Sharp's performance at the training camp means that she thoroughly deserves her selection. I’m delighted to be able to call upon the services of Katie Long, Maddie Hinch and Sam Quek, all of whom narrowly missed out on Great Britain selection. And a late bid for selection by Leicester’s Hannah Smith’s provides us with further experience.”
Speaking about his expectations for the tournament, Clark said, “We expect the tournament to be very tight with some experienced indoor countries present, including Russia, Scotland and Lithuania. They have more experience playing at this level but we go with a positive mindset. Our aspiration is to achieve promotion from the division and the experience of playing against Poland, who compete in the division above, during our training camp was incredibly useful. The improvements we saw in the squad over that time were encouraging. ”
In Slagelse, England’s women will compete against Lithuania, Slovakia and Russia, with whom they are grouped in Pool B. Pool A features hosts Denmark, Scotland, Switzerland and France, who were promoted alongside England from the third tier two years ago.
The intensive three day tournament will see England play two matches on each of the opening two days and one on the final day, Sunday. England’s campaign begins on Friday morning against Slovakia before playing Russia in the afternoon and Lithuania on Saturday morning. Depending on whether England finish in the top two of Pool B, they will progress to either Pool C, the promotion Pool, or Pool D, the relegation Pool. There they will play the two teams from Pool A, the first on Saturday afternoon and the second on Sunday. They must finish in the top two in Pool C to secure promotion to the Championship I tier for 2014.
England squad for EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II
Name (Club) England Indoor Caps/England Indoor Goals - Age
Sarah Ellis (GK) (Reading) 0/0 - 28
Takara Haines (Oxford Hawks) 0/0 - 21
Abi Harper (Reading) 0/0 - 22
Maddie Hinch (GK) (Leicester) 5/0 - 23
Katie Long (Leicester) 0/0 - 23
Denise Marston-Smith (Olton and West Warwicks) 5/0 - 34
Nicky O’Donnell (Bowdon Hightown) 0/0 - 30
Sam Quek (Reading) 9/2 - 23
Alice Sharp (University of Birmingham) 0/0 - 19
Hannah Smith (Leicester) 0/0 - 28
Emma Thomas (Reading) 7/8 - 28
Hollie Webb (Beeston) 2/0 – 21
Friday 20 January – 10:40 UK time – 11:40 local time – England v Slovakia
Friday 20 January – 14:30 UK time – 15:30 local time – England v Russia
Saturday 21 January – 08:00 UK time – 09:00 local time – England v Lithuania
Saturday 21 January – tbc – tbc – Pool C or Pool D
Sunday 22 January – tbc – tbc – Pool C or Pool
Source: England Hockey Board
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