England Head Coach Danny Kerry has named the 18 athletes who will compete for the title of European Champions as world class international hockey returns to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015. Kerry hands a recall to Holcombe’s Sam Quek and a first call up to Leicester goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh.
The England squad shows just two changes from the Great Britain squad that secured Olympic Qualification at the World League in Valencia. One of those changes is enforced, as Emily Maguire will represent Scotland at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships. Her place is taken by Sam Quek who returns to the squad for the first time since the Champions Trophy in December. Quek, who captained the side at that tournament, has a wealth of experience with 57 England caps to her name.
Kate Richardson-Walsh, who captains the side, has 48 international goals for England and Great Britain combined, so could reach a half century at the tournament. Striker Alex Danson, who has been named as vice captain, is also closing in on 50 goals. Currently she has scored 47 times for England and will be aiming to reach the 50 mark in London.
There is also a call up for Leicester goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh. The 23-year-old has yet to make an appearance for England but has impressed during training and in her two Great Britain appearances so far. Heesh replaces East Grinstead goalkeeper Kirsty Mackay in the squad.
The squad contains 14 athletes who picked up a silver medal at the 2013 EuroHockey Nations in Belgium. Alex Danson, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Sam Quek, Helen Richardson-Walsh, Susie Gilbert, Laura Unsworth, Nicola White, Georgie Twigg, Hannah Macleod, Susannah Townsend, Maddie Hinch, Giselle Ansley, Hollie Webb and Lily Owsley will all be hoping to go one better and win gold this time out.
There are a number of milestones due to be reached during the tournament. Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley, East Grinstead’s Sophie Bray and University of Birmingham’s Lily Owsley are all in line for their 50th England caps, currently sitting on 46, 47 and 47 respectively. Laura Unsworth is currently on 99 England caps and if she plays will reach her century in the opening game of the tournament. She reached 50 Great Britain caps and 150 combined international caps at the World League in Valencia.
England Head Coach Danny Kerry said: “On returning from a short break post World League it was made clear to the England players in the Great Britain squad that the athletes who demonstrated focus and form in the lead up to European selection would get the ticket to the tournament.”
“It’s been impressive watching the training group off the back of an Olympic qualifying period, showing commitment to hard and focused training. It is testament to the type of resilience required during a very intense period of international competition.”
“Sam Quek has taken the opportunity to gain a place within the side and we as a group of coaches are taking the opportunity that the tournament presents to give Sabbie Heesh some senior international tournament exposure. Susannah Townsend and Sophie Bray have shown exciting attacking intent within the preparatory matches. Hollie Webb continues to demonstrate what an accomplished player she is in defence and similarly Laura Unsworth, a driving force within training and matches provides necessary steel and competitiveness for high performance.”
The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 showcases the best eight men’s and women’s teams in Europe, including both England teams. England’s women will be hoping to go one better than in the 2013 Championships, where they won Silver, narrowly missing out to defending Champions Germany. The event will offer entertainment both on and off the pitch with a large fan park, including a fun zone for children. The stadium capacity has been expanded to cater for demand for tickets, with some sessions on the verge of selling out again at the increased capacity.
England squad for Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015
Giselle Ansley – Surbiton
Sophie Bray – East Grinstead
Alex Danson – Reading
Susie Gilbert – Reading
Sabbie Heesh – Leicester
Maddie Hinch – Holcombe
Joie Leigh – Clifton
Hannah Macleod – St Albans
Shona McCallin – Slough
Lily Owsley – University of Birmingham
Sam Quek – Holcombe
Helen Richardson-Walsh – Reading
Kate Richardson-Walsh – Reading
Susannah Townsend – Canterbury
Georgie Twigg – Surbiton
Laura Unsworth – East Grinstead
Hollie Webb – Surbiton
Nicola White – Holcombe
Ticketing information is available at here