29 May 2013: Ahead of the World League Semi Final in Johor, Malaysia, England Men’s Head Coach Bobby Crutchley has named a squad of 20 athletes who will fly out to Malaysia next month to prepare for the new FIH competition. The final 18 man squad will be announced closer to the event which runs from 29 June – 7 July.
The line-up sees six London 2012 Olympians returning to action, plus several other athletes who bring a wealth of experience to the squad. Alongside them, Crutchley has also named a number of less experienced athletes, three of whom will be looking to secure international debuts.
Back from a season playing for Dutch side HGC, England Captain Barry Middleton is ready for the new challenge ahead, “I am really looking forward to the tournament as it gives the squad a good chance to see where we stand right now in World Hockey. We have a new group with a good mix of youth and experience and there’s a real desire to get out there and challenge ourselves against the best sides in the world. It’s exciting to see the young talent we have coming through our development pathways.”
Alongside Middleton, Olympians Nick Catlin (Reading), Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster), Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead), Harry Martin (Beeston) and Richard Smith (Royal Racing Club Brussels) have all been named in the squad, which will face some strong opposition out in Malaysia.
England (FIH #4) have been drawn in Pool B and will face South Africa (FIH #12), Pakistan (FIH #5) and Malaysia (FIH #13) in the group phase of the tournament. South Africa and Pakistan are no strangers to the six London Olympians as they faced them last Summer in the group stages under the guise of Great Britain.
The results from those fixtures saw a dominant 4-1 win over Pakistan and a 2-2 draw with the team ranked twelfth in the world. Ashley Jackson will look to continue some of the same form he showed in those games, contributing four out of the six goals for Great Britain. England’s other opponents, Malaysia, will be on home turf and have enjoyed some good results against some of the best sides in the world, including a 3-3 draw with Great Britain at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last May.
In the other Pool, Olympic Champions Germany (FIH #1) will face Korea (FIH #8), Argentina (FIH #10) and one additional team that will be named at the end of this week following the completion of the final World League Round 2 tournament in Russia.
Speaking about the selected squad and the tournament ahead, England Head Coach, Bobby Crutchley said, “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. 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.”
Two Olympians currently missing from the line-up are Rob Moore and Iain Lewers. Iain Lewers continues to be monitored as he recovers from surgery on his knee earlier this year. Rob Moore currently has work commitments and therefore will not make the trip to Malaysia.
England’s first game is against South Africa and will take place on Saturday 29 June at 13:00 (UK time). There will be live streaming of all the matches from the FIH website. Further information will be released closer to the tournament.
One week earlier England’s Women will be playing in the Investec World League Semi Final on home turf in London from 22-30 June 2013.
England Men’s Squad for the World League Semi Final (20 athletes have been named, this number will be reduced to the final 18 closer to the tournament):
Ben Arnold, James Bailey, Tom Carson, Nick Catlin , Darren Cheesman, David Condon, Adam Dixon, Dan Fox, Mark Gleghorne, Michael Hoare, Ashley Jackson, Simon Mantell, Harry Martin, Barry Middleton, George Pinner, Phil Roper, Dan Shingles, Richard Smith, Henry Weir, Oliver Willars