England ring the changes in post-Olympic year

[img_assist|nid=8548|title=Fifth Euros|desc=England’s Captain Barry Middleton (right) in action against Tim Jenniskens of Netherlands in NOW Pensions Nations Cup – Ady Kerry|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=202]JUST six players from GB’s 2012 Olympic Games side have been included in the line-up for the Trifinance European Hockey Championships in Boom, Belgium starting on Saturday.

East Grinstead’s Iain Lewers is included in the side after he made a welcome return to the defensive line recently, after recovering from a knee injury he sustained last year.

Double Olympian Ashley Jackson, who underwent surgery on his ankle after the World League in Malaysia and will be out for the rest of the summer.

England will face Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland in Pool B at the championships.

One side which coach Bobby Crutchley’s men are no strangers to is the Dutch, who they have played on numerous occasions this year. Recently  the two sides faced each other in the NOW: Pensions Nations Cup and with 17 goals over a three match series, fans at Wakefield HC were treated to some fantastic hockey.

Crutchley said, “The Dutch games last week were encouraging for us and it was great to push such a quality side so close. Having said that, matches before major tournaments don’t always indicate what will happen on the day as different sides prepare in different ways. To predict how we will do overall is very difficult, especially given the inexperience of this side and the inconsistent results we’ve had recently.

“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.

“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.”

In Pool A, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic will battle it out against each other. Having both won their respective World League Semi Final tournaments earlier this summer in Malaysia and Rotterdam, Germany and Belgium come into the tournament leading the way in recent form books. 

England captain Barry Middleton is no stranger to the European Champions having competed in five already, and he is looking forward to the challenge ahead, “This is a young squad, but they have delivered everything that’s been asked of them so far and there is a really good level of positivity around the camp. As a player, the EuroHockey Championships is one event that everyone looks forward to and it will be great to test ourselves against Europe’s best.”

England Men’s Squad for TriFinance EuroHockey Championships: Ben Arnold (Forward), James Bailey (Goalkeeper), Alastair Brogdon (Forward), Tom Carson (Forward), Nick Catlin (Forward/Midfield), David Condon (Midfield), Adam Dixon (Midfield/Defender), Dan Fox (Defender), Michael Hoare (Defender), Iain Lewers (Defender), Simon Mantell (Forward), Harry Martin (Midfielder), Barry Middleton (Midfield/Forward), George Pinner (Goalkeeper), Dan Shingles (Midfielder), Richard Smith (Defender), Henry Weir (Midfield/Defender), Ollie Willars (Defender).