Great Britain Women’s Head Coach Danny Kerry has named a squad of 20 athletes ahead of the Investec Private Banking International against Japan on Sunday 26 April at 3pm. The final 18 athletes will be selected on the morning of the event as both teams head back to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time since London 2012.
Great Britain squad – FIH world number 8
The Great Britain squad contains seven athletes who competed at the 2012 Olympic Games; defenders Emily Maguire and Kate Richardson-Walsh as well as Laura Unsworth, Helen Richardson-Walsh, Georgie Twigg, Alex Danson and Hannah Macleod. Ashleigh Ball, who also competed at London 2012, is out with long term injury whilst fellow Olympians Nicola White and Sally Walton are not selected.
14 of the 20 athletes named by Kerry were part of the squad who travelled to Spain for a three match series – which Great Britain won, back in February. There is a call up for Leicester goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh who has impressed since joining the training squad, the 23-year-old will be hoping to win her second senior international cap. There is also a place for Scotland’s Sarah Robertson who has over 50 caps for her home nation.
If selected, Helen Richardson-Walsh will reach 250 combined international caps when she takes to the field against Japan. The last time the Reading midfielder represented her country was over a year ago when the squad played the USA out in San Diego. Since then, Richardson-Walsh has struggled with a back injury, but has been back in full time training since the start of the year.
Speaking ahead of the two match series [including the capped game on Monday 27 April], Head Coach Kerry said: “Japan will set us a number of different tactical challenges with an Asian style of play which will feel different to our playing group. This type of experience is great for the development of the team. All the coaching staff are looking forward to seeing how we play given a good period of focussed and intense training over the last few months.”
On the selected squad: “We’ve given an opportunity to young Scotland international Sarah Robertson to stake a claim for a place in the World League squad and we have also brought Helen Richardson-Walsh back into the fold for a capped match following a long period of rehabilitation to vie for a place in the squad that goes to Valencia.”
The facts – Great Britain v Japan
Great Britain have only played Japan eight times and their record against the Cherry Blossoms makes for pretty good reading – won six and lost two. The home side have also got 24 goals to their name and have conceded just eight times. England’s star striker Alex Danson has been on target three times in the teams’ last two meetings; a 3-0 victory at the 2012 Champions Trophy when teammate Helen Richardson-Walsh was also on target and then later that year the forward bagged a brace on Olympic Park during London 2012 when Kerry’s side ran out 4-0 winners in the pool stages.
The last time Great Britain suffered defeat at the hands of the Cherry Blossoms was 12 October 2003 when the Japanese ran out 3-2 winners in a test match.
Japan squad – FIH world number 10
Japan have also named a squad of 20 athletes to travel to London with 17 of the 18 who finished eighth at the recent Hawke’s Bay Cup, included. Naho Ichitani is the one omission from that group whilst Keiko Manabe, Shiho Otsuka and Yukari Mano have been added to take the squad to 20.
Ones to watch – Japan
Goalkeeper Sakiyo Asano, will go down in folklore in the UK after her incredible display at London 2012 kept China at bay to steer her side to a 1-0 win in the final pool game. The victory ultimately allowed Great Britain to progress to the semi-finals and the rest, as they say, is history. Asano is a formidable shot stopper who has acquitted herself superbly and carved her place out as a reliable No1.
Captain Miyuki Nakagawa comes with a strong reputation as the team’s playmaker. A veteran of some 265 international appearances, the midfielder leads by example and boasts excellent vision and awareness of where her teammates are, as well as the uncanny ability to find them with her outstanding range of passing.
Hazuki Nagai is one of the team’s main penalty corner threats. The 20-year-old has a good low drag flick in her arsenal but is also instrumental in setting up her teammates from some of the variations they choose to run on set pieces. Japan score the lion’s share of their goals from corners, so Nagai is not to be underestimated.
Schools event – GB v Japan – Monday 27 April
The new home of hockey at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will open its doors to up to 3,000 school children for the second capped match on Monday 27 April at 1pm; Kerry will select from the same squad of 20 players below on the morning of the match.
Investec Private Banking Internationals – Great Britain squad v Japan
|Lily Owsley||University of Birmingham|
|Sophie Bray||East Grinstead|
|Hannah Macleod||St Albans|
|Ellie Watton||St Albans|