Hockey: Slough's injury crisis

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SLOUGH ARRIVED in Glasgow last night for the European Indoor Club Championship with their depleted squad reduced to just eight, their latest casualty being the Welsh international Lauren Williams, a daughter of JPR, who broke her thumb in a fall on Wednesday in her flat.

Lesley Hobley and Becky Frater had previously been eliminated and Fiona Greenham is an influenza victim hoping to travel today but with limited prospects of playing.

Slough, having twice previously finished with European silver medals, were originally very optimistic of taking the gold.

Under their coach, Andy Halliday, and their manager, Martin Langston, their preparations, which started way back in October with a training weekend in Germany, had been thorough and, although missing Karen Brown, who had decided to concentrate on the outdoor game, their hopes were high of becoming the first team to take the title away from Germany.

Russelsheimer, going for their sixth successive title, will now start favourites, in spite of the fact that their great star, Britta Becker, gave birth to a daughter last month and may only play for short periods.

Slough's initial threat will, however, come from the host club, Glasgow Western, whom they meet this afternoon in their opening pool game. Their other pool opponents are Real Sociedad, of Spain, and Lokomotiva Race, of Slovakia.

Western, under their very experienced coach, Niall Sturrock, have six players with over 50 international appearances each, including Margery Coutts with an impressive 127 Scottish caps.

South of the border, there is a top v bottom meeting in the Women's Premier. Ipswich entertain bottom-placed Doncaster and should take themselves six points clear of the defending champions, Slough who will have a game in hand.

Olton Terraquest welcomed England international Lucilla Wright back last weekend after surgery and will be looking to close the gap on their visitors Hightown who are holding the last end of season play-off place.

There are top play second games in both the First Division and Second Division but, with two teams from each division gaining promotion, the competition could be less fierce.