By Rod Gilmour
Danny Kerry will add a dose of youth on a night dedicated towards Eighties’ greats on Wednesday at the Anniversary International.
East Grinstead’s Rhys Smith of East Grinstead, Jack Waller of Wimbledon and Zach Wallace of London rivals Surbiton could make their international debuts in Kerry’s 20-strong side for the GB v Belgium clash which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Olympic gold.
Kerry has already made his presence felt in the side after swapping the women’s role for the men after the summer’s World Cup.
Surbiton’s Brendan Creed, who played his first EuroHockey and Commonwealth Games over the last year, has been dropped from this week’s matches – despite making a stand out impact alongside Liam Sanford.
“Competition for places is fierce, Brendan has not been selected on this occasion but I am sure he will want to claim a place back as soon as he can,” Kerry told The Hockey Paper.
David Ames and Mark Gleghorne remain sidelined through injury. However Gleghorne was able to return for Beeston at the weekend after six months out of the game. That will likely be a major boost for Kerry’s circle routines ahead of the World Cup if Gleghorne can prove his fitness.
Meanwhile, Great Britain Hockey also confirmed that Dan Kyriakides has stepped away from the programme to play in Germany, the Welshman leaving before Kerry’s arrival
“Following good and open discussions between Ed Barney, Russell Garcia and Dan, Dan decided to step away from the programme to pursue his hockey ambitions and play in Germany.
“Dan remains in our longer term thinking and planning. We were supportive of his decision to step away from the programme.”
With under two months until the men’s World Cup in India, Kerry will hope for a similar trajectory to opposite number Shane McLeod, at the helm of the Red Lions since autumn 2015.
McLeod, the FIH coach of the year, has rested several players for the two-match trip to England, but does retain Arthur Van Doren, the world player of the year.
Kerry added: “It’s great to recognise the 1988 team’s success in this fixture. For the current GB squad we will be using it to look at developing our play, our combinations and our understanding of the playing group looking to both the World Cup and the FIH Pro League starting in January.
“Belgium are an excellent team with excellent players and there will no doubt be plenty of exciting hockey on show.”