Hockey: Loughborough favoured to retain indoor title

The Loughborough Students and Chelmsford will start strong favourites to retain their titles when the National Indoor League gets under way at six venues around the country this weekend.

Loughborough expect to have the English international Chris Graham back from a broken hand and their strongest opposition could come from the newly promoted Surbiton, who have spent the last two weekends in Germany and Austria fine-tuning.

In the women's tournament Chelmsford is the least affected by the absence of Great Britain players although the badly depleted Slough have signed Rachel Walsh from Olton, who surprisingly have not entered for the League. Hightown, with their vastly experienced player-coach Tina Cullen, could rekindle something of their past Indoor successes with their game this evening against Chelmsford likely to hold the key to this year's title.

Frances Houslop, the Canterbury defender, has been called into the Great Britain training squad departing today for South Africa as a replacement for Mandy Nicholson, who has been ruled out after aggravating a hip injury.

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