By The Hockey Paper
Maddie Hinch will have to earn back her place ‘on merit’ after deciding to return to Great Britain colours.
Hinch, 30, took a break from the game following England’s quarter-final exit to Holland at last summer’s World Cup.
Hinch, the world goalkeeper of the year, said: “My time away has allowed me time to recharge, mentally and physically, and renew my ambitions in the game whilst continuing to play at the highest level of women’s club hockey over in the Netherlands.”
Hinch will return in early June and could play her first match against Germany on June 7 in the FIH Pro League.
Great Britain have used three goalkeepers this year and coach Mark Hager admitted on Thursday that he had some ‘tough decisions’ to make.
He said: “Having recently met with Maddie, she clearly has huge desire to be back, and it would seem that an extended break has been a great step for not only Maddie, but also the programme and the opportunity it has provided our other goalkeepers.
“We fully recognise her qualities, but at the same time our goalkeepers have done very well since I came in, so she will have to earn her place in the team on merit, and hopefully give us some tough decisions to make.”
Great Britain women currently sit seventh in the Pro League standings. It means their Olympic qualification will be far from easy, with a likely play-off set for the autumn.
But Hinch is eager to get going after her extended break from the international demands currently placed on players.
She said: “With a new global league, new coach and an Olympics next year, this is a very inspiring time for the sport and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing my part as much as I can.”
Meanwhile, Susannah Townsend will make her first appearance in six months this weekend in the double header against Argentina and Belgium. Townsend last played at the Champions Trophy in November.
The matches could also see 18-year-old Izzy Petter make her international debut.
For the men’s team, there could also be an international debut for 22-year-old Tom Sorsby who comes into an FIH Pro League squad for the first time. Liam Ansell and Rhys Smith have also been named in the squad as Luke Taylor misses out.