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England men opt for youth in Hockey World Cup medal hunt

Barry Midlleton in his 200th England test (c) Frank Uijlenbroek

Barry Middleton will be playing in his fourth World Cup PIC: World Sport Pics

By Rod Gilmour

England will vye for their first men’s World Cup medal for 32 years with new coach Danny Kerry entering his second showpiece tournament in five months and the belief that his fresh-faced side can “threaten” the world’s best in India.

England sit seventh in the world rankings but will be aiming to make inroads on two fourth-place finishes at the last two World Cups.

Barry Middleton will once again travel for a major sub-continent tournament – this will be the 34-year-old’s fourth World Cup – and, along with Adam Dixon, will be two of the most experienced players overseeing 13 World Cup debutants.

Zach Wallace (18), Jack Waller (21), who made their international debuts 42 days ago, and travelling reserve Rhys Smith (21) are the youngest players to be selected after Kerry rubber stamped his side after key assessments in the last few weeks.

Notable omissions include Henry Weir, Ollie Willars and Chris Griffiths, while Sam Ward has overcome a minor injury.

“The athletes have been working hard and embracing new ideas over the last eight weeks in the build up to World Cup selection and we could not have asked more from the team in terms of attitude and application,” Kerry said.

“We understand the challenge our pool represents and will have to be at our very best to progress to the latter rounds of the tournament.

“We realise that many teams will start favourites ahead of us, we also know we are capable of threatening all teams.

England’s co-captains: Phil Roper, George Pinner and Ian Sloan

If odds were to be set as a pre-World Cup barometer, England would certainly be an outside bet after losing to France and finishing fourth at the recent 4 Nations in Valencia. Alternatively if you like betting on other forms of hockey, check out this nhl betting.

But the squad felt that there was reason for optimism after producing some incisive performances in Spain, notably against the Dutch.

In their World Cup Pool, England face Australia, gunning for their third title in a row, Ireland, who they lost to twice in Valencia, and China.

The 20-strong squad includes Smith and Brendan Creed as two travelling reserves. They will certainly be two key assets after the World League last year in Bhubaneswar when some teams were depleted through food poisoning.

England’s last World Cup medal came in 1986.

England squad:

George Pinner (Holcombe), Harry Gibson (Surbiton), Adam Dixon (Beeston), Liam Sanford (Reading), Mark Gleghorne (Beeston), Jack Waller (Wimbledon), Michael Hoare (Wimbledon), Luke Taylor (Surbiton), Harry Martin (Hampstead & Westminster), David Ames (Holcombe), Ian Sloan (Wimbledon), Barry Middleton (Holcombe), Zach Wallace (Surbiton), James Gall (Surbiton), Phil Roper (Wimbledon), David Condon (East Grinstead), Will Calnan (Hampstead & Westminster), Sam Ward (Old Georgians)



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