Source: GB Hockey

Several New Faces As GB Prepares For Return To International Hockey

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  • Five players could make GB debuts – Fiona Crackles, Emily Dark, Sophie Hamilton, Ollie Payne and Miriam Pritchard
  • Holly Hunt and David Goodfield also called up; Laura Unsworth to captain women’s team
  • Harry Martin and Adam Dixon in line to play 100th games for GB, Sarah Robertson could reach 50 caps
  • GB to play first FIH Hockey Pro League matches since February 2020 against The Netherlands (27, 29 October) and Belgium (31 October, 1 November)
  • Games on 27 October to be shown free-to-air on BT Sport

Four players could make their senior international debuts next week as Great Britain’s men and women prepare to play their first competitive matches in more than seven months.

Fiona Crackles, Emily Dark, Sophie Hamilton and Ollie Payne have all been selected for games against The Netherlands (27 and 29 October) and Belgium (31 October and 1 November) as Great Britain return to action in the FIH Hockey Pro League.

Goalkeeper Miriam Pritchard could also play her first GB match, having appeared twice for England in 2017. Furthermore, there are also call ups for Holly Hunt – whose only previous GB appearance came against China in the 2019 FIH Hockey Pro League – and David Goodfield, who last played in an international match nearly two years ago.

In addition, Harry Martin and Adam Dixon are in line to win their 100th Great Britain caps while Sarah Robertson could make her 50th appearance.

The postponement of the Olympics has meant several of the women’s squads have undergone planned surgeries, including captain Hollie Pearne-Webb. This has provided head coach Mark Hager with the opportunity to give an outing to several young talents.

Dark, 19, has appeared 23 times for Scotland and won the ‘U21 Talent Award’ as she helped them to gold at last year’s EuroHockey Championships II.

She is also a part of the GB Elite Development Programme (EDP) alongside Loughborough Students goalkeeper Pritchard, 21, Hampstead & Westminster midfielder Hunt, 22, and 19-year-old Durham University defender Crackles, who captained the England U18 team to bronze at the 2018 EuroHockey Youth Championships.

Clifton Robinsons and UConn Huskies player Hamilton, 18, was also part of that squad before representing England’s U21s at last summer’s EuroHockey Junior Championships.

Experienced defender Laura Unsworth will captain the team while Amy Costello and Sarah Evans could make their first international appearances of the year.

Hager said: “I’m excited to start developing our game again and to get back into competitive action. The opportunity to challenge ourselves, especially against one of the world’s best teams in The Netherlands, is something we are all looking forward to.

“It is very exciting to provide an opportunity to these new players; all four have been training with us over the last few weeks and shown great development.

“For them to now test that on the world stage is what dreams are made of.”

“As we look to 2021 and the Olympic Games, this trip provides a fantastic opportunity for us to compete, develop and get used to some of the new Covid-19 protocols which could be in place over the coming months”

After joining the squad back in July, men’s goalkeeper Payne could get his first taste of senior international action against two of the world’s most attacking sides.

Another graduate of the GB EDP, the 20-year-old was part of the GB U21 teams that won Sultan of Johor gold in 2018 and 2019 and helped England’s U21s to an impressive EuroHockey Junior Championship silver last summer.

Goodfield’s return to international hockey comes nearly two years since he won the last of his 40 caps for England. He also previously featured eight times for Great Britain, notably scoring twice in a thrilling 4-3 win over Australia in the 2017 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final.

There could also be first appearances in the second instalment of the FIH Hockey Pro League for Brendan Creed, David Condon and Rhys Smith, while Chris Griffiths, Ian Sloan, Sam Ward and Henry Weir miss out through injury.

Head coach Danny Kerry said: “We’re very excited to get going. We train hard to play matches and, being competitive people, we look forward to match play. I’m very grateful to the people who have put in an absolutely enormous amount of work to enable these matches to happen.

“Ollie is an outstanding young talent and has excelled in training since joining the squad. He now needs to experience the senior international game. David Goodfield brings a differing set of skills and, following an initial disappointment of not being included in the senior squad, has demonstrated the qualities needed to make his way back. We are looking forward to seeing his play over the coming matches.

“Both Brendan and David have been fantastic in the way they have dealt with such lengthy rehabs and I know they are looking forward to playing international hockey again.”

Women’s squad

4) Laura Unsworth (C) – England

5) Sarah Evans – England

6) Anna Toman – England

9) Susannah Townsend – England

10) Sarah Robertson – Scotland

13) Ellie Rayer – England

14) Tess Howard – England

17) Sarah Jones – Wales

22) Lizzie Neal – England

25) Sabbie Heesh (GK) – England

26) Lily Owsley – England

27) Jo Hunter – England

31) Grace Balsdon – England

32) Amy Costello – Scotland

33) Izzy Petter – England

36) Emily Dark – Scotland

37) Sophie Hamilton – England

38) Fiona Crackles – England

39) Holly Hunt – England

40) Miriam Pritchard (GK) – England

Men’s squad

1) George Pinner (GK) – England

3) Luke Taylor – England

7) Alan Forsyth – Scotland

8) Rupert Shipperley – Wales

9) Harry Martin – England

15) Phil Roper – England

16) Adam Dixon (C) – England

18) Brendan Creed – England

19) David Goodfield – England

20) Ollie Payne (GK) – England

21) Liam Ansell – England

22) David Condon – England

25) Jack Waller – England

26) James Gall – England

29) Tom Sorsby – England

30) Rhys Smith – England

31) Will Calnan – England

32) Zach Wallace – England

33) Jacob Draper – Wales

The dates and times (all GMT) for the matches can be found below. They will all be available to watch on BT Sport. Both games on Tuesday 27 October will be free-to-air – download the BT Sport app to watch them.

Tuesday 27 October: 15:30 – Netherlands v Great Britain (W)
Tuesday 27 October: 18:00 – Netherlands v Great Britain (M)
Thursday 29 October: 15:30 – Netherlands v Great Britain (W)
Thursday 29 October: 18:00 – Netherlands v Great Britain (M)
Saturday 31 October: 13:00 – Belgium v Great Britain (W)
Saturday 31 October: 15:30 – Belgium v Great Britain (M)
Sunday 1 November: 13:00 – Belgium v Great Britain (W)
Sunday 1 November: 15:30 – Belgium v Great Britain (M)