Who's in and who's out?

England star Laura Unsworth has joined East Grinstead

With Surbiton’s undefeated campaign last season still fresh in the memory, the rest of the clubs in the Investec Women’s Premier Division have been busy over the summer months tweaking their squads in an attempt to knock the Sugden Road side off their perch. As is customary, there have been plenty of comings and goings as coaches put the finishing touches to their squads ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser.

The champions have ensured they will not be caught resting on their laurels with no fewer than five signings coming in to bolster their ranks. The most eye-catching of which is probably the arrival of Scotland and Great Britain goalkeeper Amy Gibson who moves over from Slough.

For last season’s league runners-up Canterbury, continuity is the name of the game. Anna Kolárová, a rising Czech star arrives whilst Scotland’s Nikki Lloyd and junior international Anna Baker head through the exit door to Wimbledon and University of Durham respectively.

One of last year’s other playoff contenders, Clifton have also maintained the majority of their squad with a few additions, including Jessica Orrett from University of Virginia.

Reading have been hit by some high-profile departures with Welsh international duo Leah Wilkinson and Sarah Jones moving on to Holcombe whilst junior international Olivia Saligoi moves to University of Birmingham. The Sonning Lane side have made moves to replace their losses with Rebecca Van Berkel moving the other way to Saligoi. Georgie Blackwood is back for another season after moving from Canterbury (New Zealand) whilst the Southern Hemisphere has also provided two more recruits for Reading in the form of Rose Winter from YMCC (AUS) and Belinda Smith from Somerville (NZ).

In addition to Wilkinson and Jones, Jessica Brooker joins from Slough to line up alongside her former Reading team mates in the side at Holcombe Park. Kevin Johnson also brings in England U21 captain Kim Leiper from Loughborough, Emma Trunks from Birmingham Uni, Amelie Green from East Grinstead, Aurora Mears from Canterbury, and Christyn Davidson from Connecticut University.

Leicester hope to kick on and take their place back in the end of season play offs and have brought in four new signings to add that quest, the most notable of which is probably Suzanne Geeraerts - from Royal Herakles.

Bowdon Hightown and Buckingham, both of whom staved off relegation, the latter through the playoffs, have boosted their ranks. Sally Walton returns to Hightown after a spell at Wakefield and she brings Jane Donnelly with her from the Conference North outfit. Buckingham have been a little more active with Phoebe Richards looking a canny signing from Beeston and Lottie Porter, who turned out for St Albans last year two of five arrivals.

Newly promoted East Grinstead have shown their intent to make a splash in the top flight with the capture of England star Laura Unsworth. Takara Haines makes the step up from Conference outfit Oxford Hawks and there is a return for Josephine Blunt, a product of East Grinstead’s youth system who comes back after a spell at university.

Last but by no means least, there has been plenty of activity at University of Birmingham. Eleven new players have made the move to turn out for Phil Gooderham’s side, with the list of arrivals reading like a who’s who of junior internationals: Lucie Daman returns from a spell in Australia and is joined by former Reading teammate Olivia Saligoi. Hockey Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year Holly Hunt and Katherine Somerville move from Bowdon. Lydia MacDonnell (Leicester) Alice Wills (Holcombe) and Alicia Caillard (East Grinstead) have all arrived alongside Beeston trio Erica Sanders, Lilie Lamacraft and Flora Peel. Perhaps the most important signing of all however is that of Vanessa Hawkins. The former international moves over from Leicester to lend her array of skills and experience to an exciting Birmingham line-up. It may take time for the new recruits to gel, but Birmingham have certainly made some exciting moves this summer.

Some selected transfers, club by club can be seen below:

Sally Walton - from Wakefield
Jane Donnelly - from Wakefield

Phoebe Richards - from Beeston
Lottie Porter - from St Albans
Amy Cairns - from Banbury
Rebecca Hayward - from Bristol Firebrands
Abbie Brant - from Driffield

Anna Kolárová from Czech Hockey Federation

Jessica Orrett - from Uni of Virginia
Nicola Moss - from Stourport
Fiona Burnet - from Bath Buccaneers

Kate Reynolds - from Loughborough Students
Takara Haines - Oxford Hawks
Miranda Caillard - Bristol Firebrands
Laura Unsworth - from Holcombe
Josephine Blunt - from Loughborough Students

Kim Leiper - from Loughbrough Students
Emma Trunks - from Birmingham Uni
Amelie Green from East Grinstead
Sarah Jones - from Reading
Leah Wilkinson - from Reading
Jessica Brooker - from Slough
Aurora Mears - from Canterbury
Christyn Davidson - from Connecticut Uni

Suzanne Geeraerts - from Royal Herakles
Elizabeth Honarmand - from Loughborough Students
Sally Whyte - from Bloemendaal
Emily Burgwin - from Loughborough Students

Hannah Leigh - from Trojans
Rebbecca Van Berkel - from Birmingham Uni
Oria Cooke - from Surbiton
Georgie Blackwood from Canterbury (NZ)
Rose Winter from YMCC (AUS)
Belinda Smith from Somerville (NZ)

Robyn Collins - from Beeston
Olivia Chilton - from Birmingham Uni
Amy Gibson - from Slough
Emma Fairhead - from Ipswich
Stephanie Addison - from Clifton

Lucie Daman - from MCC (Australia)
Vanessa Hawkins - from Leicester
Olivia Saligoi - from Reading
Holly Hunt - from Bowdon
Katherine Somerville - from Bowdon
Lydia McDonnell - from Leicester
Alice Wills - from Holcombe
Alicia Caillard from East Grinstead
Erica Sanders from Beeston
Lilie Lamacraft from Beeston
Flora Peel from Beeston

For all the fixtures in the opening weekend of the Investec Women's Hockey League, click here.