Facial injury could rule Kate Walsh out for remainder of Team GB's hockey campaign


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The Independent Online

Great Britain coach Danny Kerry is waiting to discover if captain Kate Walsh will play any further part in the Olympics, after she suffered a serious facial injury in the 4-0 opening win over Japan.

Kerry is ready to select an alternative player from outside of his 18-strong squad, a move which must be sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and hockey’s own international governing body, if Walsh is forced to drop out.

The Reading player took a heavy blow from a Japanese stick and was helped off the pitch holding an ice pack to her left cheek. She was later taken to hospital.

Defender Crista Cullen is hopeful Walsh will recover in time to play a part in the rest of the tournament. “We’ve got the best medical team supporting us. We’ve got the best squad and team to put her back together and get her back on that pitch,” she said.

Great Britain midfielder Helen Richardson also left the field early after being hit on the knee by a ball.

Two goals from Alex Danson and further strikes by Sally Walton and Sarah Thomas secured an easy win for the hosts, who next face Korea tomorrow.

“We’ve got to debrief well because we have a big game against Korea,” said Cullen.

“All Asian sides play in the same way, so it’s about making sure we understand where we went wrong and how we put those things right. [Japan] got in our circle a few times. We must analyse why and make sure we put that right when we face Korea.”

To reach the next stage of the tournament, Great Britain must finish first or second in their group. They are joint top with China, who beat Korea 4-0 in yesterday’s opening round of matches. Group rivals and gold medal favourites Holland began their campaign with a  3-0 victory over Belgium.

In the other qualifying section, Argentina thrashed South Africa 7-1, New Zealand beat Australia 1-0 and Germany defeated USA 2-1.

Cullen is aware that the clash against the Dutch, a week today, will be a tough prospect.

“Holland are one of the strongest teams in our pool — there is no getting away from that,” Cullen said. “It will be a very good game when we meet them.”