Hockey: Boyce looks to Royce for England

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The Independent Online
England's Under-21 team entertain Germany, Ireland and Belgium in a four nations tournament, starting this afternoon at Milton Keynes, as they put together their final preparations for next month's Junior World Cup which will be held at the National Stadium.

The team's coach, Jon Royce, was delighted with the performance of his squad against the Australian Seniors on Tuesday evening, when they more than held their own for much of the game before finally going down 3-1 to a side that included 11 of their Olympic bronze medal-winning team.

Royce was also pleased with the news that Alistair Boyce, who has been a long term absentee following injury, is fit to return and is expected to be playing over the weekend. The fitness of Boyce, who is expected to team up with Mark Pearn as twin strikers, could be the key to England's medal prospects next month.

Germany have been supreme in Junior World Cup Tournaments. After taking second place to Pakistan in the first in Paris in 1979 they have won the gold medal on each subsequent occasion, producing a string of outstanding players and the current squad is unlikely to be any exception.

Two of the present squad will be following in the footsteps of their brothers who made prominent contributions in Terrassa in 1993. Christoph Eimer is taking on where Martin left off and Christian Domke is following brother Oliver. Both elder brothers are now well established in the senior national side.

Tomorrow's game against the Germans will provide a useful indication of how England's plans have gone.

Ireland, who England play today, have not qualified for the world event but will be equally keen to do well. Their national sides have gone through a lean time recently and the juniors will be looking to re-establish their country's position in the world arena. Belgium, who are in a different pool to England in the World Cup, provide the opposition on Sunday.

ENGLAND UNDER-21 SQUAD: J Ebsworth, D Haydon (Teddington), N Taylor (Hounslow), B Garrard (Capt; Unattached), J Evennett, S Humphries, D Mathews, P Wicken (Canterbury), R Stamp (Beeston), A Boyse (Lewes), M Pearn, Manpreet Kochar (Reading), R Irvine, T Matthews (Oxford Univ), M Johnson( Cannock), A Simons (Southgate).

TODAY'S FIXTURES: Four nations tournament, Milton Keynes National Stadium): Germany U-21 v Belgium U-21 (kick-off 1.0); England U-21 v Ireland U-21 (3.0).