By The Hockey Paper | Antwerp
England coach Danny Kerry says his side have shown “purpose and intensity” as they aim to find late form at the EuroHockey Championships and stave off the threat of relegation.
England will go head-to-head with Ireland, Scotland and Wales for fifth place in a ‘home nations’ style tournament which will likely be a less attractive, more physical affair given most players know each other.
Despite failing to reach the Euros last four for the first time in 12 years, Kerry remained upbeat ahead of the second phase here.
“We had a ridiculous amount of shots and circle possession against Wales and we played with plenty of intensity,” he said.
“Wales physically killed themselves trying to match us and then have struggled and we didn’t put them to the sword.
“Belgium statistically was an even game and the first time since I’ve been involved that we matched them. And Spain was always going to be a tight and anxious game. We have played with purpose and intensity.”
England lost their defensive shape at key moments against Spain and then were unable to unlock the Spanish in the final third as they went for the win which would have seen them through.
But England have looked stilted here, devoid of the rhythm shown by the other main rivals for the title.
The Welsh opening draw clearly impacted England, who looked flat last weekend. And Adam Dixon, the captain, was hoping for some “ruthless edge” to their play, starting against Ireland on Thursday.