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New look Australia squad for the Azlan Shah Cup

Jason Lee’s Great Britain men’s side will face a new-look Kookaburras squad at the 2011 Azlan Shah Cup at the beginning of May.

A combination of injuries, player unavailability and blooding some new talent has seen Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth name an 18-man squad almost unrecognisable from the Commonwealth Games gold medal side from six months ago.

[img_assist|nid=1931|title=Family business|desc=Jonathon Charlesworth, son of coach Ric, is in the Australia squad for the Azlan Shah cup in May. Image: Hockey Australia|link=node|align=right|width=250|height=375]With the 2012 London Olympics drawing closer and with the team having not competed since October last year due their hectic schedule in 2010 which saw them become the first team in history to win the Champions Trophy, World Cup and Commonwealth Games in the one year, the Azlan Shah Cup, in Malaysia from May 5-14. presents a great opportunity for the Kookaburras to regroup looking towards London 2012.

However despite being the number one team in the world they will receive a challenge at the Azlan Shah Cup, the only tournament they failed to not win last year.

Long-term injuries to key players including four-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer, dominant striker Des Abbott, Graeme Begbie (voted Kookaburras player of the year in 2010) Kieran Govers (2010 World Cup gold medalist) and Joel Carroll (2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist) sees them ruled out for the Azlan Shah.

Senior players Eddie Ockenden, Rob Hammond, Mark Knowles and Luke Doerner are also unavailable due to club commitments in the Netherlands. 

Despite these players not competing the Kookaburras still have a very strong side lead by co-captain Liam De Young and the likes of Jason Wilson, George Bazeley, Brent Dancer, Glenn Simpson and Mark Paterson, all of whom have recently been based in Europe, returning to the team to provide some experience and be given a further opportunity to impress Charlesworth.

However on a positive note, two new players (Andrew Charter and Jacob Whetton) will make their debut for Australia, adding to the incredible depth which already exists in the Kookaburras under the guidance of Charlesworth.

“Depth in your squad is important for any team that wants to be successful because there will always be situations where players are unavailable for various reasons, as has happened at this tournament. It’s important that players can step in and not feel out of place and know all of the team structures and game plan, and I’m extremely confident that we have the depth to cover the players who won’t compete at the Azlan Shah Cup. We showed last year that we have great depth by the fact that we were able to player several different players across the many tournaments we played last year and it didn’t affect the strength of our team,” said Charlesworth.

In other selection news, Jonathon Charlesworth will make his way back into the Kookaburras after some good form in recent practice matches while Matthew Butturini will return after an injury set back which was saw him miss the 2010 Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games. 

Charlesworth said it was important to give the players an appropriate amount of time off however admitted that it could take the team some time to reestablish their rhythm.

“We have approached our schedule a bit differently this year compared to last. After such a busy year, the team needed some time off, and we are balancing this year to have more matches in the later part of the year so we are peaking at the 2011 Champions Trophy in December and carry that momentum through to the Olympics,” said Charlesworth. 

“The Azlan Shah will provide us with a good platform as we head towards the London Olympics, but I think it is unrealistic to expect the team to be at their very best at the moment or make any comparisons to last year. Last year is done now, and we are only looking at how we can improve because there is no doubt the other teams have been studying us to try and figure out how to beat us. We need to make sure we stay one step ahead,” said Charlesworth.

For further information about the Azlan Shah Cup visit this website:

www.azlanshahcup.com/

2011 AZLAN SHAH CUP SQUAD

 

Name

State

Games

George Bazeley

VIC

37

Kiel Brown

WA

78

Matthew Butturini

NSW

35

Andrew Charter*

ACT

0

Jonathon Charlesworth

WA

5

Chris Ciriello

VIC

51

Brent Dancer

WA

24

Tim Deavin

TAS

15

Liam De Young

QLD

250

Matt Gohdes

QLD

13

Fergus Kavanagh

WA

103

Simon Orchard

NSW

71

Mark Paterson

NSW

39

Glenn Simpson

VIC

23

Matthew Swann

QLD

41

Glenn Turner

ACT

50

Jacob Whetton*

QLD

0

Jason Wilson

QLD

36


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