England ready to experiment

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The Independent Online
Hockey

England will today face the all-powerful Australians in their last group game of the Champions' Trophy here without Russell Garcia, their most experienced player, writes Bill Colwill from Berlin.

Garcia, player-coach of the Polo Barcelona club, has been released from England's last two games to be with his club for the opening of the Spanish league season. "Of course we will miss him," coach David Whitaker said, "but it will give us a further opportunity to develop our squad and experiment, which must be good for Britain's Olympic aspirations."

Jimmy Wallis is expected to come into the starting line-up at right link, with Jason Lee moving across to Garcia's spot. No other changes are expected.

Although England have not beaten Australia since 1985 in Perth, when goals from Richard Dodds and Imran Sherwani gave England a 2-0 win, there are hopes in the England camp of ending this bleak run.

Much will depend on Calum Giles finding his touch at penalty corners. Giles, the top scorer in last month's European Cup in Dublin, has yet to score in Berlin.

Whitaker was quick to point out that it was not that Giles is out of touch but that the corner drill in Dublin centred around Giles, Jason Laslett and John Shaw. Laslett and Shaw are not in Berlin and the new team has yet to settle in. They were busy getting their act together in training yesterday.

Despite the lack of victories here, Whitaker is pleased with his makeshift team. "The best part is that two or three players, notably Guy Fordham and Jon Wyatt, have staked firm claims for regular places in the squad. This puts the pressure on those left at home. They know how hard they will have to work to get back in the side - and that can only be good news."

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