Hockey: Dancer splits squad in two

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The Independent Online
There will be a lot of unfamiliar faces contesting this weekend's preliminary round of the Indoor Club Championship at Birmingham and Kidderminster as England takes a 27-strong squad to Sicily.

England, under their new coach, Barry Dancer, play full internationals against Italy, with the Australian planning to split his squad in two to ensure each member is guaranteed a game.

With the England and Great Britain teams having notched up six straight wins in the previous encounters, scoring 34 goals and conceding just one, Dancer should start his England career on a high note.

The leading English indoor clubs faltered badly in the DTZ Midland tournament last weekend, with the national champions, St Albans, and last year's finalists, East Grinstead, failing to reach the quarter-finals.

St Albans will, however, be strengthened by the former England captain Andy Halliday and Guildford's Ian Jennings while Grinstead have recalled the Olympic gold medallist Richard Leman. With strengthened teams, both should qualify for finals night at Crystal Palace on Friday 6 February.