England’s men’s hockey head coach Bobby Crutchley believes trips to Belgium and Germany will be vital with 20 athletes chosen to fly to Malaysia for the World League Semi-Final.
Captain Barry Middleton, back from a season playing in the Netherlands, is one of six players who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics to be named in the party of 20.
Nick Catlin, Dan Fox, Ashley Jackson, Harry Martin and Richard Smith join Middleton from Team GB while ten of the players selected have won less than ten caps for England.
Three haven’t featured internationally for the senior England or Britain teams including Phil Roper, who won silver with Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival earlier this year.
England will face South Africa, Pakistan and the hosts Malaysia in Pool B of the World League Semi-Final with Team GB having played the first two at London 2012 last summer.
Team GB beat Pakistan 4-1 and drew 2-2 with South Africa in the group stages with a final 18-man England squad to be announced closer to the event, which runs from June 29 to July 7.
England will play warm-up games against Belgium and Germany before then and head coach Crutchley insists those outings are key, especially for the newer members of the squad.
“We know this will be a tough environment to jump into, but it’s a challenge we’re relishing and we have some good young players coming into the team,” said Crutchley.
“We travel to Belgium and Germany over the next couple of weeks to play some practice matches so it will be great to gauge where we stand against two very good sides.
“The less experienced athletes are making progress in training, so it will be great to play these five matches before we head out to Malaysia.”
© Sportsbeat 2013