England are emphasisng Olympic preparation with the squad announced for the European indoor hockey championships starting in Leipzig on Friday. Even so, the lineup includes nine of the players that won promotion to the top-level of European hockey two years ago and the additions to the sixth-place World Cup side of 2011 make for a competitive squad for the trip to Germany.
Notable in the additions from the World Cup are East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson who was ruled out of last winter’s trip to Poland by injury. Adam Dixon, who also missed out on the World Cup, is a gifted indoor player and the inclusion of Jonty Clarke increases the forward threat. Hampstead and Westminter’s Dan Fox makes an international return having missed out on the outdoor Europeans last summer.
Outdoor GB/England skipper Barry Middleton will not, however, be making the trip and Glen Kirkham will take over the captain’s armband. Other absentees from the World Cup are James Tindall, Iain Mackay, Simon Mantell and Richard Springham.
No details of broadcast/Internet coverage of the tournament is currently available. The championship website is http://www.eurohockey2012.de/.
England indoor coach Andy Halliday said, “With the Olympic Games only 200 days away, we are utilising the short indoor season to support our London 2012 preparation.
“The European indoor competition is an ideal opportunity for players in the Olympic training group to develop and hone tight skills in a pressured environment. As a consequence, this is an asset to our outdoor game.
“Primarily, selection for Leipzig has been made with outdoor development in mind. However, injury status and fatigue have also been taken into consideration. With the increased workload of an Olympic year some players will benefit from spending time concentrating on their strength and conditioning programme ahead of our return to outdoor hockey towards the end of January.”
In preparation for the tournament next weekend, England recently took part in a series of matches against German club sides in Hamburg. “I was very pleased with our performances against German Bundesliga opposition at the training camp in Hamburg. We have a tough pool in Leipzig but if we can match the intensity shown in Hamburg I think we may surprise a few people,” said Halliday.
In Leipzig, England’s men will compete against 2008 European Champions Russia, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, with whom they are grouped in Pool B. Pool A features World Cup Winners and hosts Germany, defending European Champions Austria, Spain and Switzerland, who also won promotion from the second tier in 2010.
England met all three of their Pool B opponents during the 2010 FIH Indoor World Cup campaign. On the opening day, England beat the Czech Republic 2-1 with Glenn Kirkham on the score sheet. Against Russia, England narrowly lost 3-2 while also losing to the Netherlands, 4-2, in their final match, the fifth-sixth playoff.
The intensive three day tournament will see England play two matches on each of the opening two days with a classification match on the final day, Sunday. England’s campaign begins on Friday afternoon against the Netherlands before playing the Czech Republic in the evening and Russia on Saturday morning. A cross-over match or semi final awaits on Saturday afternoon before the classification and medal matches on Sunday.
England secured back-to-back European promotions in 2008 and 2010 after returning to the indoor scene to aid the development of athletes for the outdoor game following an eight year absence.
Name (Club) England Indoor Caps/England Indoor Goals – Age
Richard Alexander (Surbiton) 18/7 – 30
Nick Brothers (GK) (Reading) 21/0 – 28
Nick Catlin (Reading) 5/0 – 22
Jonty Clarke (Reading) 12/14 – 30
Adam Dixon (Beeston) 20/14 – 25
Dan Fox (Hampstead and Westminster) 10/0 – 28
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) 12/20 – 24
Glenn Kirkham (Captain) (East Grinstead) 15/2 – 29
Richard Mantell (Reading) 18/8 – 30
Rob Moore (Surbiton) 6/1 – 30
George Pinner (GK) (Beeston) 4/0 – 24
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) 26/16 – 24
Date – UK Time – Local Time – Fixture
Friday 13 January – 13:00 – 14:00 – England v Netherlands
Friday 13 January – 17:30 – 18:30 – England v Czech Republic
Saturday 14 January – 10:20 – 11:20 – England v Russia
Saturday 14 January – tbc – tbc – cross-over or semi final
Sunday 15 January – tbc – tbc – classification or medal match
Tagged EuroHockey Championships