Hockey: Coach to tackle club task

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The Independent Online
MIKE HAMILTON, the Hockey Association's director of coaching, breaks new ground on Sunday by taking charge of the women's champions, Balsam Leicester, when they open their defence of the National League title.

Hamilton, who is enthusiastic at the prospect of coaching a club side, said yesterday: 'Leicester have some exciting players and I have enjoyed training sessions with them. I am keen to make them into an attacking unit, particularly down the flanks.'

Sarah Blanks, the speedy 18-year-old student, and Kim Gordon, an experienced former England international, are likely to feature strongly in his plans, with another student, Lucy Cope, expected to play a key role in midfield.

Missing, however, from the Leicester line-up this season will be Kath Johnson, the dependable English international, who is expecting her first child in the new year.

Hightown, under a new captain, Fiona Lee, have added Caroline Gill, the England junior from Chelmsford to their squad. Sunday's game against Leicester could be very close.

Slough, who are expected to provide the biggest challenge to Leicester, have recruited three players from relegated Ealing - the Scottish goalkeeper Sue Lawrie, the England striker Mandy Nicholls and the former England Under-21 player Sally Eyre. Lesley Hobley takes over the captaincy as they step out against Clifton.

Jane Smith, the England World Cup striker, may be on familiar ground at Chelmsford but will be wearing Ipswich colours against her old club. With Lucy Youngs likely to play on the right wing for the Suffolk club, Smith can expect a good service of crosses.

In the day's other Premier League game, First Personnel Sutton Coldfield travel to the newly promoted Bracknell.