Hockey: Dancer works out next step after England's Cairo waltz

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The Independent Online
England returned yesterday from their series against Egypt in optimistic mood.

Bill Colwill talked to their new coach.

Barry Dancer, England's new Australian coach, arrived at Heathrow yesterday as the English squad returned from their five-Test series grand slam against Egypt en route to Perth.

Looking forward to his initial three-year contract and the challenge of next June's World Cup, Dancer was optimistic when he looked ahead to the future of English hockey.

"I was very impressed by the resilience of the squad, particularly after the thrashing by Australia a few weeks back," he said.

"Cairo was a splendid opportunity to get to know the squad and to begin working with them. All 18 performed well and will be in my World Cup plans.

"I was encouraged by what I saw, although a greater fitness level is necessary. Offensively there is need for greater fluidity."

Commenting on the fact that the majority of England's 21 goals in the Test series came from penalty strokes or penalty corners, Dancer added: "I am happy to take them, but I want others as well. I am looking for a range of forwards who can score from open play and score with confidence. It is one of the key areas on which we will be concentrating."

The new coach was most impressed with England's defensive corner drill: "It was one of our real strengths over the Tests. In general defence terms we struggled against the Egyptians who ran at us with a lot of skill."

The coach will be back in England at the beginning of December to watch players in action at important League games and for a training camp at Lilleshall from 8 to 10 December.

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