IT IS asking a lot of a completely restructured Great Britain women's side, missing most of the England team just back from a three-week tour of South Africa and containing only three of the Olympic bronze medallists, to win a medal in the elite Six Nations Champions Trophy starting in Amsterdam tomorrow. But their new coach, Sue Slocombe, is confident that the side will benefit from the experience, writes Bill Colwill.
Following two training games during the week against Australia at Bisham Abbey, in which the visitors scored six times without reply, Slocombe expressed her satisfaction with the squad's commitment and performance. She was particularly pleased with Kath Johnson in an unfamilar midfield role and new captain Jill Atkins at the back. She will also have been impressed with the performance of Chelmsford's Jane Smith, who is recovering from a back injury which troubled her for most of last season.
Although their corner drill still needs working on, Slocombe pointed out that this was the beginning of the Olympic cycle and an opportunity for players to gain experience of top-level hockey. For seven of the squad, including Smith, it will be their first Great Britain appearances.
Britain open the tournament against Australia, the defending champions. The Olympic champions, Spain, then play the Netherlands, with Germany and Korea completing the day's programme.
GREAT BRITAIN WOMEN'S SQUAD (for Six Nations Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 22-29 August): J Atkins (Bradford, capt), C Cook (Hightown), M Davies, L Watkin (Sutton Coldfield), S Fraser, S MacDonald, T Robb (Glasgow Western), K Johnson (Leicester), G Messenger, P Robertson (Edinburgh Ladies), H Rose, L Youngs (Ipswich), J Smith (Chelmsford), S Wright (Slough), A Swindlehurst (Clifton), S Gibson (Trojans).