Captain Barry Middleton is playing down the chances of the England men’s hockey team in 2014 on the eve of the World League Final – but he insists the platform for future success can be laid in India.
Middleton leads England into what is notoriously the busiest 12 months of the four-year Olympic cycle with the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy scheduled.
It all starts with the World League Final though with England drawn in a pool with hosts India, Olympic champions Germany and New Zealand as eight of the globe’s best sides go head-to-head.
England are much changed from the team that built towards the London 2012 Olympic Games, which saw Great Britain’s men finish agonisingly short of the podium places in fourth.
India are first up at the World Hockey League and, while captain Middleton, who made his third Olympic appearance at London 2012, isn’t predicting a medal he believes in time they can be on the podium for an extended period.
“It will be nice to test where we are in world hockey,” Middleton said. “We want to build ourselves up to the World Cup.
“It’s massive for us as a team. We started with a new group of players a year ago, but now we’re looking to build into being one of the top teams in the world.
“Maybe this year is a bit soon to say we’ll definitely win medals, but that’s where we’re looking to progress to.
“The girls are doing it, we want to do it as well and that’s how we’ll judge ourselves. We’ll be disappointed if we’re not playing in big games at the end of tournaments.”
© Sportsbeat 2014