England Indoor squad face NED, CZE & GER in Pool A

Newcomer Suzy Petty in action for England at the U21 World Cup back in August where England finished fourth

England's Women's Indoor squad will face the Netherlands on Friday at 11:50 (UK time) in the first of their matches in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships taking place in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Ahead of the EuroHockey Indoor Championships, which run from 24-26 January, England Head Coach Jason Lee took 14 athletes to Scotland to play in four capped matches as part of the squad’s preparation. His final squad of 12 have been in Prage for a few days already as they get set to face tough opposition from the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Germany in Pool A.

Lee has named an inexperienced squad for the indoor tournament and will be approaching the three days of competition in very much the same manner as the men’s indoor team with the onus being on providing new athletes an opportunity to get a taste of top international hockey against some of the best indoor sides in the world.

Eight of the 12 athletes selected for Lee’s European squad made their England indoor debuts in Scotland in a four match test series, which saw England win two, draw one and lose one - click here to find out more about these matches. Giselle Ansley, Lily Owsley and Nicola White are all familiar names in the England outdoor squad but were newcomers to the international indoor set-up. Meanwhile, Grace Balsdon (Canterbury), Suzy Petty (Beeston) and Zoe Shipperley (Buckingham) all made their senior international debuts.

Balsdon and Shipperley both joined the centralised programme at the start of January; Dilly Newton is no longer part of the squad having struggled with injuries and set-backs over the last couple of years. Petty and Reading’s goalkeeper Sarah Ellis are the only two members of the squad who are not currently centralised, however both are very much on the fringe and Lee sees this is a great opportunity for them both.

In total, the whole squad combined will take 72 indoor caps to the pitch against the Netherlands, with East Grinstead’s Kirsty Mackay and Sophie Bray (indoor only) and Surbiton’s Sarah Haycroft providing the majority of the experience. Leicester’s Nicola White takes the captain’s armband and is looking forward to the challenge ahead: “It’s a great opportunity for me to captain the squad in a tournament at this level. We know it’s going to be really tough with the teams we are facing, but everyone is relishing the challenge.”

She added: “The four matches against Scotland at the weekend were really useful and winning the series against a strong side who play just one division below us was obviously a big confidence boost. We don’t have many indoor caps going into the tournament but we are very much looking at this as a chance for the group to gain experience. If we were able to secure a top six finish and qualify for the World Cup it would be absolutely fantastic.”

England Head Coach Jason Lee added his thoughts on the selected squad, “I see the weekend as a development opportunity for some of the youngsters in the side. The players I have selected from the centralised programme are those who are not playing as much indoor club hockey. If you look at our pool on paper then you would say it is a very daunting prospect, but because I want the girls to get as much experience as possible out in Prague my view is that it’s actually a brilliant group of teams to play against. “

Germany are the defending European Champions while The Netherlands and Poland finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 2012 tournament - with England being promoted from the second division it is likely that they will be seen as the underdogs of the group. Lee added, “I don’t want to set any specific goals going into the tournament and my expectations will be realistic given the young nature of the squad I have selected and the calibre of teams we will be facing.”

In Pool B France are the other side who gained promotion from the second division in 2012 and they will face Poland, Austria and Belarus. Expect Belarus and Poland to be strong contenders after they took the silver and bronze medals behind Germany in Leipzig.

Match reports will be added to the International Fixtures section of the website at the end of each day, with a press release sent out on Sunday evening following the completion of the tournament.

Reading’s Sarah Ellis will come straight back from Prague into club training with Reading as she gets ready for the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Final at Wembley Arena on Sunday 2 February.

The two members of the squad who went to Scotland but have not gone to Prague are seasoned campaigners Laura Unsworth and Georgie Twigg.

For more information about the EuroHockey Indoor Championships, please visit www.eurohockey.org. The full schedule can be found in our International Fixtures section.

EuroHockey Indoor Championship Women's Squad

Player - Club

Giselle Ansley - Surbiton
Grace Balsdon - Canterbury
Sophie Bray - MOP (NED)
Sarah Ellis - Reading
Sarah Haycroft - Surbiton
Jo Leigh - Clifton
Kirsty Mackay - East Grinstead
Lily Owsley - Birmingham University
Suzy Petty - Beeston
Zoe Shipperley - Buckingham
Ellie Watton - Beeston
Nicola White - Leicester