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Ashley Jackson returns to GB hockey fold

Ashley Jackson is GB’s leading scorer with 133 goals PIC: Christopher Lee

By Richard Bright

Ashley Jackson, regarded as one of Britain’s finest hockey players, has been “inspired and motivated” to return to the international fold ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Jackson, 32 in August, left the central programme after Rio 2016 and could make his debut back next month against the Netherlands, the country where he has renewed his love for the sport.

The road back to GB colours looked a long shot two years ago as he took up stints playing ice hockey with Invicta Dynamos and Basingstoke Bison.

But when Paul van Ass signed up the Englishman to play for HGC, Jackson’s form in the Hoofdklasse sparked coach Danny Kerry to keep in touch with GB’s leading scorer.

The Hockey Paper reported last month how Jackson had been invited to Bisham Abbey to train with the men’s squad and he has clearly seen enough to attempt to help GB qualify for Tokyo which would usher in a fourth Olympics after making his debut as a 19-year-old.

Jackson said: “I am excited to be back and to continue my hockey on the international stage. I’d like to thank everyone at HGC that has made this possible for me.

“I’d also like to thank Danny [Kerry] for inspiring and motivating me, I can’t wait to get back with the group and enjoy my hockey at the highest level once again.”

Jackson could also rejoin Old Georgians, with requirements stating that GB players must play domestically, after a short stint playing with the Surrey club last season.

Kerry said: “We’re looking forward to having Ash’s experience, knowledge and skills within the programme. His inclusion further increases the depth within our squad and we look forward to working with him over the coming months ahead.”

GB currently lie fourth in the FIH Pro League table with qualification for the Grand Final in The Netherlands at the end of June still in the offing.

Jackson will be available for the last two matches, starting with the Dutch on June 14 and the Black Sticks at the Stoop on June 23.

His precision at penalty corners will be vital for GB in the coming months as Kerry dissects where to play Jackson.

In a recent set of tweets, Jackson has stated how he has found his hockey mojo once more, while also stating that he had been “written off” individually.

Goals for HGC, the fact that he remains one of the world’s best players and has now returned to Great Britain will all be heartening news for all hockey fans.

Even more so after nearly 70 per cent of Hockey Paper readers believed that they would never see Jackson back in a GB shirt!

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