Richardson returns for European Championship campaign

07 August 2013 / 12:17

England's women's coach Jason Lee includes nine Olympic bronze medallists in his 18-strong squad for this month's hockey European Championships in Belgium.

Three-time Olympian Helen Richardson returns from back injury to add experience to the team while 18-year old Lily Owsley, who has just completed her A Levels, is the youngest player selected.

Kate Walsh, who recently claimed her 300th international cap, will again captain the squad.

“Since April it’s been a steep learning curve for some of the new girls coming into the squad, but they have coped with everything incredibly well and I’m excited to go out to Belgium and see what we can do," said Lee.

"As long as we perform to our best ability and play the hockey we have been doing in training then we should be very competitive in the tournament.”

England face Germany, Spain and Scotland in their pool matches while the men's team will take on Poland, Netherlands and Ireland.

New men's head coach Bobby Crutchley has also mixed youth with experience, with just six members of last year's British Olympic team included in a squad captained by Barry Middleton.

England's men won the European title four years ago and claimed bronze last time in Monchengladbach - but Crutchley is realistic about medal expectations for his new-look team.

“If Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands all play at the top of their games it will be very difficult for us to medal, but we also know that there is a lot of potential in this side," he said. 

"First and foremost we will look to our group matches where we are not taking anything for granted. The games against Poland and Ireland will be tough; Ireland have shown how strong they are when they pushed us close in Hamburg and it will be a nervous first game against Poland who we know the least about going into the tournament.”

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