Coach finds promise in defeats

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The Independent Online
Hockey

David Whitaker, the England coach, put on a brave face yesterday after successive defeats in the Champions' Trophy in Berlin ended his side's hopes of glory in the annual tournament for the world's top six nations.

He refused to be downhearted by the 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands and 1-0 loss to Pakistan, which left England bottom of the standings without a point. "We could have got a draw from both games, but in a strange way I'm not too worried," said Whitaker, half of whose 16-strong squad are under 22.

A wave of injuries forced Whitaker to award first caps to Danny Hall of Guildford and Mark Hearn of Reading, and utilise several more players with limited international experience. "The way they are playing is sending out a clear message to many established internationals back home," pointed out Whitaker, who coached Great Britain to Olympic gold in Seoul in 1988.

"Some of these youngsters, having been given their chance, are not going to give up their places willingly."

The defenders Guy Fordham from Hounslow and Jon Wyatt of Reading, both with limited exposure to the hurly-burly of the international arena, have settled into the team like old campaigners.

England meet Germany on Wednesday and if the youngsters continue to make their presence felt there are signs that there could be, at last, a revival in the country's hockey fortunes.

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