Satisfied Royce settles on final Sydney squad

Jon Royce, the Great Britain coach, has, after a nine-month period spanning 29 internationals, named his final Olympic 16 from the party of 31 who comprised his training squad. Royce, disappointed at the outset that he did not have more time to prepare, said yesterday he was satisfied with what has been achieved over those nine months.

Jon Royce, the Great Britain coach, has, after a nine-month period spanning 29 internationals, named his final Olympic 16 from the party of 31 who comprised his training squad. Royce, disappointed at the outset that he did not have more time to prepare, said yesterday he was satisfied with what has been achieved over those nine months.

With wins over Australia, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands and Spain - his main medal contenders in Sydney, along with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the final of the Olympic qualifier, preparations have gone well.

There are no surprises in the squad which is well balanced between experience and youth. Led by the four-times Olympian Jane Sixsmith, plus five other Olympians, there is plenty of experience, while the 18-year-old Helen Richardson, Kate Walsh and Lucilla Wright from the England Under-21 squad provide the youth.

Anna Bennett and Mandy Nicholson, who both played in Atlanta in 1996, have been named as travelling reserves. Bennett has been injured for much of the time between Atlanta and the beginning of last season and did well to fight back into contention, probably losing out at the end to the goal-scoring touch of Scotland's Rhona Simpson.

Royce said: "Any team that has two top-class goalkeepers and a good penalty corner drill is in with a chance of a medal." His prime concern in the coming weeks will be the fitness of his inspirational captain, Sue Chandler, who has a back injury and has missed the last eight internationals.

In addition to his experienced Olympians, Royce is also fortunate to have, in Chandler and Jane Smith, two vastly experienced English players who have missed out in the past at Great British level in the midfield. The pair will now team up with Richardson and Denise Marston-Smith to form the engine room of the side.

Britain's pool in Sydney includes Argentina, Australia, South Korea and Spain.

GREAT BRITAIN OLYMPIC SQUAD: S Chandler, J Smith, F Greenham (all Slough), K Bowden, H Richardson (all Fyffes Leicester), M Clewlow (Canterbury), T Cullen, C Reid, K Walsh (all Hightown), D Marston-Smith (Clifton), J Sixsmith (Sutton Coldfield), H Rose (Bury), L Wright (Olton), K Johnson (Harleston Magpies), P Stott (Bonagrass Grove), R Simpson (Grange Edinburgh). Travelling reserves: M Nicholson (Slough), A Bennett (Canterbury).

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