Hockey: England women's tough task

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THE ENGLAND women's side play the first of their three Test matches against Australia this afternoon in the course of four days in Toowoomba before moving to Brisbane for the remaining Tests and games against New Zealand and Korea. Not only will the squad be playing for their places in this summer's European Cup in Cologne they will also be playing under the eye of the recently appointed Great Britain coach, Jon Royce.

Royce has declared a special interest in the fitness of Canterbury's defender Mel Clewlow. Clewlow, one of the limited successes of England's World Cup squad last summer and very influential in Canterbury's successful promotion challenge last season, is considered in some quarters to have fitness doubts. Goalkeeper Hilary Rose, now domiciled in the United States, is another Royce will be watching with great interest.

In naming his first selection of 39 players, Royce has included all the England squad currently in Australia with the exception of Clewlow and has also named two Atlanta Olympians for a possible comeback trial: the robust defender Kath Johnson and non-stop midfielder Tammy Miller.

England have won just twice against Australia since 1967 in 22 games and must improve on their form when the two teams met in the Commonwealth Games final in Kuala Lumpur last September when Australia cruised to an 8-1 victory.

Squads, Digest, page 27