England's net aim : HOCKEY

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The Independent Online
England, with eight players new to international hockey and only four of their World Cup squad on duty, play their opening game in the Eight Nations Indira Gandhi tournament in New Delhi against Kazakhstan today.

The eight-day tournament provides a splendid opportunity for some of the younger players to stake their claim for a European Cup place in Dublin this summer.

In particular, the coach, David Whitaker, will be keen to find a penalty-corner striker and forwards who can score goals - both notable by their absence in England's World Cup campaign.

Havant's Calum Giles and Bill Waugh, of Southgate, have been finding the net from set pieces in the league this season, and could be the answer. Giles may prove to be the goalscoring front-runner England lack.

Little is known of Kazakhstan, although the Alma Ata club, based in the country's capital city, has produced many outstanding Soviet players in the past. India and Malaysia complete England's pool, with Australia favourites to win the second pool of South Africa, South Korea and Poland.

Several managers will be at Heathrow this morning, awaiting the arrival of the Great Britain women's team from San Diego, as the leading players are needed by their clubs for the National Indoor Finals at Crystal Palace today and tomorrow.

If all goes well, Anna Bennett and Mandy Nicholls will be stepping out with Slough just five hours after landing, as the Berkshire club make their first moves to defend their title against Chelmsford. Jo Thompson, the Ipswich captain, and Hightown's TinaCullen will have slightly longer to acclimatise before their clubs meet in the evening.

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