Hockey: Indoor fixtures hit by England squad calls

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The Independent Online

The National Indoor League gets under way this weekend, with 54 teams playing at six different venues.

The new sponsorship, from the Higgins Group, worth £45,000 over three years, brings a revised format involving two regional divisions below the premier level.

But several leading clubs will be below strength for half of the fixture list because of the outdoor training programme for a large England men's training squad.

Last year's Premier winners, Loughborough Students, will be seriously affected, with three players in the squad, plus their player-coach Jason Lee's role with the national coaching team, although Lee has been released to play tomorrow.

Guildford, last year's winners of the play-offs and England's representatives in Europe this year, have six in the England training party.

Also on the international front, Glasgow's Kelvin Hall hosts the six-nations Indoor Classic. Five of the countries competing will line up for the first World Indoor Cup in Leipzig at the beginning of next month. The exception is the host nation, which failed to qualify, but this weekend's matches will still provide an informative guide to Leipzig.