Hockey: Chance for young players to stake their Olympic claim: Slocombe's first British women's squad

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The Independent Online
SUE SLOCOMBE yesterday announced her first squad since becoming Great Britain's coach and made no secret of the fact that she was disappointed by the withdrawal of senior players, writes Bill Colwill.

Slocombe's selections cover the women's Champions' Trophy in Amsterdam at the end of August and two games against Australia at Bisham on 17 and 18 August.

'I am extremely disappointed not to have my first choice available but I understand the players,' she said. 'It is an amateur sport and players must consider their jobs and their futures. However, there will be advantages for young players who we hope will feature in our future plans.'

The Olympic bronze medallist, Jill Atkins, who missed all but 15 minutes of last season's National League programme, returns after surgery to captain the side who contain four others players from the Barcelona squad. Missing at their own requests are Jane Sixsmith, Sandie Lister, Tammy Miller and the two goalkeepers, Helen Morgan and Jo Thompson, together with up and coming England striker Tina Cullen.

Of the younger players, Scotland's Sue MacDonald gets an early opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the Atlanta Olympics together with England's Sally Gibson, Chris Cook, Jane Smith and, after just one cap, Ipswich's second choice goalkeeper, Hilary Rose. Rose is a surprise selection at the expense of Scotland's experienced Sue Lawrie who played so well in their goalless draw with Germany in Glasgow last Saturday.

Gill Messenger, one of Scotland's current successes, and a near miss for the Seoul Olympics, returns to Great Britain's ranks along with the Welsh captain, Lynda Watkin. No place has been found for England's Sam Wright, while Alison Swindlehurst, dropped by England after this year's Home Countries' defeat by Scotland, gets a recall.

GREAT BRITAIN WOMEN'S SQUAD (v Australia, Bisham, 17 and 18 August; and for Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 22 to 29 August): J Atkins (Bradford, capt), L Bayliss, M Davies (Sutton Coldfield), C Cook (Hightown), S Gibson (Trojans), M Nicholls (Ealing), J Smith (Chelmsford) K Johnson (Leicester), H Rose (Ipswich), A Swindlehurst (Clifton, all England), S Fraser, S MacDonald, T Robb (Glasgow Western), G Messenger, P Robertson (Edinburgh Ladies, all Scotland), L Watkin (Sutton Coldfield and Wales).