England rely on mix of youth and experience

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The Independent Online

Fiona Greenham, of Slough, is one of three Olympians from Great Britain's Sydney set missing from the England squad to play in the World Cup qualifying event in Amiens and Abbeville next month.

Tricia Heberle's selection does include nine of those who travelled to Australia but Greenham has barely featured in the coach's preparations because of final-year study commitments. Also missing are the Leicester pair of Kirsty Bowden, who has taken time off from international hockey since Sydney, and the 19-year-old Helen Richardson, who has an ankle injury.

The team is a blend of youth and experience and should finish in the top seven of the 16-team tournament, being played in France from 17 to 30 September, to qualify for next year's World Cup in Perth, Western Australia. It would be disappointing if England were not to reach the final.

However, with nine games in 14 days, Heberle was cautious yesterday. The coach said: "Our recent run of roller-coaster results, although disappointing, indicate a team in transition rather than a team lacking ability."

England continue preparations this weekend with games against France and Belgium at Amiens and Abbeville. Four additional players, Greenham, Kate Hendrick, Alex Danson and Evie Van Poortvliet, will be added to the squad for the weekend.

ENGLAND SQUAD: C Reid, T Cullen, K Walsh (Hightown), H Rose (Bury), M Nicholson, J Smith (Slough), M Clewlow, A Bennett, F Houslop (Canterbury), K Moore, R Walker, L Wright, H Grant (Olton & West Warwick), L King (Ipswich), S Blanks, P Miller, J Bimson (Fyffes Leicester), D Marston-Smith (Clifton).