England women have named an 18-strong squad which faces three competitions over nine weeks in a “pretty unique summer of hockey”.
England play the Women’s World Cup at the start of July before two home events, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the EuroHockey Championship Qualifiers in Durham complete an energy-sapping summer.
Nine of the England team which played at the 2018 World Cup in London feature as David Ralph’s side attempt to win a first medal since 2010. England will play matches at the Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam before the later rounds are staged at the revamped Olympic Stadium in Terrassa, Spain.
A few weeks later they will aim to land a first Commonwealth Games title and go one better than the silver England won at the last home Games at Manchester 2002.
As with any England or GB team after an Olympic cycle, there is plenty of change. This England squad contains four debut youngsters in Sophie Hamilton, Holly Hunt, Flora Peel and Lily Walker. At 20, Walker is the youngest in the group, while Laura Unsworth is set to make her 300th international appearance this summer.
Elsewhere, the squad has a youthful but exciting feel to it. Izzy Petter and Fiona Crackles, 21 and 22 respectively, came of age last summer in Tokyo, as did the pace of Ellie Rayer.
Tess Howard, who sustained a lengthy injury which forced her to miss last summer’s major events, also returns to international competition since playing EuroHockey 2019 in Amsterdam, while Darcy Bourne and Lizzie Neal will travel as World Cup reserves.
Howard said: “It gives me goosebumps! To compete in front of a home crowd, after the last two years and everything that everyone in this country has been through it’s going to be amazing. Having the support around us, friends, family and that crowd support, it’s going to be super inspiring to run out on the pitch and see the flags waving, it’s going to be something very special.”
Coach David Ralph said: “It is a pretty unique summer playing in three back-to-back tournaments, we know that it will provide some challenges but it is a summer that we are all really looking forward to.”
After the Commonwealth Games, England will play the EuroHockey Championship Qualifiers between Aug 25-28 in Durham. Croatia, Slovakia and Wales will be the opponents.
England’s big summer schedule
Women’s Hockey World Cup
Sun 3 Jul – England v India, Amstelveen, 3:30pm UK time
Tue 5 Jul – England v New Zealand, Amstelveen, 6:30pm
Thu 7 Jul – England v China, Amstelveen, 6:30pm
9-16 July – Knockout and crossover games, Amstelveen and Terrassa
Sun 17 Jul – Final, Terrassa, 8:30pm
Sat 30 Jul England v Ghana, 4pm
Sun 31 Jul England v Canada, 7pm
Tue 2 Aug England v India, 4pm
Thu 4 Aug England v Wales, 11am
5-8 Aug Knockout matches
Eurohockey Championship Women’s Qualifier
Thu 25 Aug England v Croatia 7:30pm
Sat 27 Aug England v Wales 1pm
Sun 28 Aug England v Slovakia 1pm