Hockey: England preparing to reign in Spain again

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Last weekend England's women began their preparations at Lilleshall to defend in Spain next month the European indoor title which they won last year in Glasgow.

A smaller squad assembles again this weekend at the same venue for their second training session after which the squad will be reduced to 12 for the European trip, with just one more training session before they depart for Orense.

Sadly, the English Hockey Association has further handicapped the coach, Peter Atwell, by arranging a tour to Australia for the potential World Cup squad which denies him many of the country's leading indoor players.

The 18-strong party going to Australia includes Carolyn Reid, Tina Cullen, Jane Smith and Karen Brown, players England cannot afford to be without in Spain.

Indoor hockey dominates the men's weekend scene with the East, North, West and Midlands battling to fill the last eight places in the preliminary round of the National Championships. Last year's finalists, St Albans and Hull, along with Reading and Teddington from the South, have already qualified for the last 12.

After several years with virtually no competition in the West the Army has come to their aid and organised an eight-team event at Larkhill. The North are back with a structured event at Newton Aycliffe, where great things are expected from Brooklands, now coached by the former England captain, Peter Nicholson.

The East, at Aldenham School, and the Midlands, at Worcester and Kidderminster, have well-oiled machines. At Aldenham the game tomorrow between the eight- times national champions, St Albans, and the 1995 National champions, Old Loughtonians, should be worth a trip.

ENGLAND INDOOR TRAINING SQUAD: D Barnes and K Bache (Portishead), B Frater, S Knight, S Chandler, M Nicholls, J Robertson and S Wright (all Slough), S Blanks (Leicester), J Green and K Roberts (Chelmsford), K Walsh, M Liptrot and D Marston-Smith (Hightown), I Palmer (Colwall) and H Richardson (Sherwood).