Hockey: MacDonald adds power to Slough

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The Independent Online
Slough, the National League champions, travel to Southport to play Hightown in today's opening match of the season, strengthened by the inclusion of the Great Britain and Scottish international Sue MacDonald.

England's Lucy Cope returns after missing last season with injury problems. Absent will be Karen Brown and Helen Thornalley, recovering from injuries, and Sally Eyre, who is taking a year out to complete her studies.

Hightown's England junior internationals Caroline Gilbert and Helen Grant have moved to Olton Terraquest while Maggie Souyave has retired.

Newly promoted Olton are likely to be short of Mandy Gatherer with an injured back but hope to have all their Under-21s available after the World Junior Cup in Seoul with the exception of Lucilla Wright, who is resting.

Lucy Youngs has taken over the captaincy of Ipswich, disappointed that in spite of the good showing in both League and Cup last season and a Silver medal in the European Championships they have been unable to attract new players. It will be difficult to fill the gap left by the retirement of Vicky Dixon but the good news is that the former English internationals and past captains Sandie Lister and Tracy Fry are back in training.

Loughborough Students, newly promoted to Division One, will be strengthened with the arrival of Kate Sharland from Leicester and Ireland's Laura Brown.