Fresh from securing Olympic qualification earlier this summer, England’s men and women hockey teams now turn their attention towards bidding for success on home soil at this month’s EuroHockey Championships in London.
Tuesday saw the announcement of both 18-strong teams ahead of the tournament which runs from August 21-30 at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
For many of the players it will be a chance to relive memories of London 2012 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – a Games in which the women came away with bronze and the men finished fourth.
Kate Richardson-Walsh again leads the women’s squad and is just three goals short of reaching 50 international goals for both England and Great Britain.
Selectors have opted for just two changes from the Great Britain women’s squad which took gold, and with it a Rio spot, at the World League in Valencia with Sam Quek coming in for Emily Maguire who will represent Scotland while there is a first Engalnd call up for goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh.
While in the men’s team, head coach Bobby Crutchley has made just one change from the Great Britain team who recorded a third-place finish at their World League Semi-Final in Antwerp – Dan Shingles recovering from injury to replace Tim Whiteman.
The squad also contains 13 of the group who finished fourth at the 2013 EuroHockey Championships while four – Middleton, Alastair Brogdon, Ashley Jackson and Adam Dixon – won the tournament back in 2009.
“We’re really excited about playing in front of a home crowd,” said Crutchley. “The warm up tournament in Hamburg has given us some great preparation and now we’re down to the last few sessions before we start the competition.
“The European Championships is one of the hardest competitions there is. You have four of the top five sides in the world and then some really talented teams such as Ireland and Spain. France, too have improved a lot in recent times.
“We’d love to win the tournament, of course. We have some players left from 2009 when England won the competition and their experience and the belief that it is possible will be a big help, but of course it is an extremely difficult competition to win. We’re playing well and we’re confident so fingers crossed we can emulate 2009.”
© Sportsbeat 2015