Hockey: Todd adds strength to Reading's challenge

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The Independent Online

There is a return to action for the élite indoor game, after the mid-winter break, with three divisions of the National League involved today and the quarter-finals of both the men and women's EH Cups tomorrow.

It would take a bold man to suggest that Cannock, Reading and Surbiton will not progress into the semi-finals of the men's competition although all three sides will be missing their Great Britain players who are involved in the Olympic Test event in Athens.

Reading, who have signed the former England goalkeeper Simon Triggs from Canterbury as a replacement for Simon Mason, will also be strengthened by the availability of Rob Todd who has not been selected for Athens. John Peckett, who has left Southgate for Surbiton, will be available for the Surrey club for their tie with Holcombe.

The local West country derby at Bristol between Firebrands and Bath Buccaneers should also produce an enthralling contest for supporters.

The women's Cup probably provides the last opportunity for Olton and West Warwick, last season's European Championship silver medal winners, to stake a case for this year's Premiership play-offs. Even without their two GB players they should have little difficulty in overcoming Old Loughtonians to claim a place in Monday's semi-final draw.