Murphy's on the mend

26 January 2013 / 10:55

Belfast Giants netminder Stephen Murphy has been included in the Great Britain squad for next month's Olympic final qualifiers in Latvia.

The 31-year-old has missed his side's last four Elite League games due to a groin injury but coach Tony Hand is hopeful his number one will be fit.

Basingstoke Bison goalie Stevie Lyle, who last played for GB in 2010, has been placed on stand-by and could come out of retirement should Murphy fail to make it.

GB, who won the gold medal in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, travel to Latvia for a four-team tournament from February 7-10.

Hand's side - ranked 21st in the world - will face the hosts (seeded 11th), 14th-seed France and Kazakhstan (17th). The winner of the group will progress through to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Hand, the first British-trained player to be drafted in the National Hockey League, said: "I believe this is a very competitive squad and one of the most talented GB squads I have known.

"We are going to Latvia as the underdogs. This is the most close-knit squad I have worked with and they believe in their own abilities.

"There is no doubting it is going to be tough but we are going out there and will do Great Britain proud.

"As with the trip to Japan for the pre-qualifiers, some quality players have been left out. But many of them are amongst the reserves and we can call upon them if need be.

"Stephen Murphy picked up an injury playing for Belfast but he is on the mend and we are very hopeful he will be fit. If he does not prove his fitness, there are two capable netminders on the reserve list to choose from."

Squad - Netminders: Bowns (Hull), Murphy (Belfast); Defencemen: Meyers (Sheffield), Ben O'Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), D Phillips (Belfast), Richardson (Cardiff), Sarich (Sheffield), Thomas (Sheffield), Weaver (Nottingham); Forwards: Clarke (Nottingham), Dowd (Troja-Ljungby), Farmer (Braehead), Garside (Belfast), Hewitt (Sheffield), Hill (Cardiff).

Lachowicz (Nottingham), Myers (Nottingham), Owen (Basingstoke), Peacock (Belfast), J Phillips (Sheffield), Shields (Belfast), Tait (Sheffield); Reserves: Lyle (Basingstoke), Woolhouse (Sheffield), Lee (Nottingham), K Phillips (Braehead), Cowley (Coventry), B Davies (Cardiff), M Davies (Hull), Jamieson (Milton Keynes), Nell (Swindon).