Hockey: Injuries threatening England's indoor defence in Spain

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The Independent Online
A depleted England side defend their title in the Women's Indoor Nations Cup in Orense, Spain, this weekend with a minimal amount of practice and a couple of key players nursing injuries.

England start the defence of their gold medal with games today against Lithuania and Slovakia about whom very little is known, but they seem unlikely to provide too serious opposition.

The crunch pool game comes tomorrow morning when they play Scotland, coached by the highly experienced Andrew Scoular.

Crucial to England's chances will be the fitness of their two senior players and the strike power of Denise Marston-Smith. The captain, Sue Chandler, and Sam Wright, both from the Slough club, have been nursing injuries with Chandler, as a precautionary measure, not risking an old back injury in the Nat- ional Club Indoor last weekend.

Wright is returning from injury after missing all Slough's outdoor games so far this season. Marston-Smith has been in devastating form in the National League, scoring 24 times in Hightown's six games. Her duel with Scotland's goalkeepers Katie Goldsack and Morven McLeaod could be the deciding factor. Germany are the likely finalists from the other pool.

Back home at Cocks Moors Woods centre, Birmingham, the Regional Indoor League winners, which include Clifton Scottish Life from the Outdoor Premier League, will be playing off for the last two places in next year's National League Division Two.

In Australia England opened their two week outdoor tour with a 4-1 win against an Australian Senior Youth side in Sydney with Lucille Wright scoring twice.