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England Hockey women v Argentina and Netherlands: Internationals preview and how to watch

Hockey at Lee ValleyBY ROD GILMOUR

The world’s top three women’s sides in world hockey convene at the Olympic Park this weekend for the Investec Internationals. Argentina, the world No 3 side, play England on Saturday before taking on the world No 1 Dutch 24 hours later.

Two Test matches in two days?

A usual scenario which befalls teams at major tournaments (and a GB side even played Argentina in two uncapped matches on Wednesday and Thursday).

The 16 or 18-strong squads mean that teams rotate regularly throughout the 60 minutes, with players adapting to patterns and putting in short, physical bursts.

Squads aren’t short of numbers, too. England coach Danny Kerry announced his new look 33-woman squad in January. The squad have travelled to South Africa for a warm weather camp and Test matches, before a Test series defeat to Spain last month in Madrid. This weekend will mark the first home international since last summer. Naturally tickets sold out for the clash against the Netherlands in a matter of hours.

Who we will/won’t be seeing this weekend?

In all, Kerry’s squad features 12 of the 19 Rio gold medallists and 15 fresh faces. Kate Richardson-Walsh and Hannah Macleod have announced their international retirements, while Sam Quek, Georgie Twigg, Crista Cullen and Helen Richardson-Walsh have yet to formally announce theirs, with the quartet not currently on the centralised programme at Bisham Abbey. Mirroring the English, the Dutch have seen severable stars announce their international retirements, led by formidable captain Maartje Paumen, below, Ellen Hoog, Naomi van As, plus goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek in recent months.

New Zealand are taking the Michelsen (right) (c) Andy SmithKate Richardson-Walsh’s Coaches’ Corner

Danny Kerry‘s absolute skill is his tactical knowledge and his ability to combat an opposition. If he’s armouring himself he’s saying to himself ‘what have Holland got now?’

Alyson Annan (Netherlands coach) was a phenomenal player; now, she coaches how she plays. She’s got a slightly different set of players and there are some big characters gone. They will have added a string to their bow in as much as they now have an Aussie workmanlike mentality. If  they can have that freedom and ability of attack along with aggreessive workmanlife defence, they could be quite exciting.

Who is the England hockey women’s captain?

Good question. No replacement for Richardson-Walsh has been formally announced as yet. Coach Kerry’s ethos is that the squad is still undergoing “culture work” and will take it’s time to appoint a leader. Four players were used as captain on the SA tour, while Alex Danson was made captain for the Spain trip. What is certain is that the captaincy issue – don’t rule out three captains like the men – is far from a concern, given the team’s desire to gel and become an all-round, collective unit first. On Friday, Danson was announced as captain for England’s summer campaigns, with a permanent captain and leadership group expected later in the year.

England womenWhat they say

“We’ve had some talented youngsters come in. It’s made it more exciting and given us even more energy than we had before to hopefully do something really good this summer. The Dutch won’t be a warm up game and it will hopefully be a proper toe-to-toe match and they will be out there to prove their world No 1 ranking. It’s an amazing opportunity for us to play them at Lee Valley. They’ve had a few move on, as have we. It will always be a really tough game.”
Giselle Ansley, England defender

Stat attack

England and GB sides have enjoyed success when it matters against the Dutch, notably the 2015 EuroHockey win in London and Rio glory, both being decided by a shoot out. But England haven’t beaten Holland in normal time since 2003 when former captain Kate Richardson-Walsh scored the winner.

99 – Alex Danson needs one more goal to join the century club.

England women’s squad

Maddie Hinch (GK), Amy Tennant (GK), Zoe Shipperley, Laura Unsworth, Sarah Haycroft, Anna Toman, Hannah Martin, Susannah Townsend, Susie Gilbert, Joie Leigh, Alex Danson (C), Emily Defroand, Sophie Bray, Hollie Webb, Ellie Watton, Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley, Jo Hunter, Nicola White, Grace Balsdon

How to watch hockey on television

BT Sport will broadcast both games live from the Olympic Park. Both matches scheduled to push back at 2:30pm BST. BT Sport 1:  Saturday 1:45pm – 4pm, Sunday from 1:30

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