With the Great Britain players departing for Hong Kong and New Zealand in the morning there will be the usual absences from the Premier National League clubs but it is unlikely to prevent Reading, away to Old Loughtonians, and Cannock at home to Canterbury, maintaining their leading positions.
All the women's Premier clubs will be in the enviable position of being able to call on their GB players, in many cases for the first time this season, for the next couple of weeks. This will be good news for the defending champions, Slough, who dropped further points at Doncaster last week when they entertain second-placed Clifton. Slough's GB trio consists of Kate Walsh, Jane Smith and Mandy Nicholson. Slough have doubts about their goalkeeper, Lynnette Smith, who tweaked a hamstring in training.
Departing with Jason Lee, the recently appointed British chief coach who took over from Mike Hamilton after rumours of a players' revolt, will be the manager, David Whittle, and the coach, Mathias Ahrens. Announcing his management appointments Lee said: "I am very much looking forward to working with both Mathias and David, as they have a great deal of knowledge, experience and the ability to work within a team environment." Whittle has been the England manager since April 1993 and also took GB to the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics. Ahrens, Scotland's German-born former goalkeeper, has been credited with much of the success of Scottish hockey's revival over the past three years.
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