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Hockey - 05. June 2007.

England's Guide for the Women's Champions Challenge which begins this Saturday (9 June).

This is England’s first major tournament since the World Cup in 2006 which saw the team finish in seventh place having narrowly missed out on the Semi-Finals. Since the World Cup, England has played just one competitive match which saw them lose 3-0 to World No. 1 The Netherlands in an international friendly at Rotterdam HC on 28 November.

England take an 18 woman squad to Germany. The average age of the squad is 24 with eight players below this age. At 31, Mel Clewlow is the oldest player and is also the most capped player with 216 international (England and Great Britain combined) appearances to her name.
The squad includes 12 players who were involved in England’s World Cup campaign. 10 of the selected players were involved in England’s last Champions Challenge campaign in 2005 in Virginia Beach, USA, when England finished in fourth place after losing out 2- 1 to Japan in the Bronze medal play-off. This will be the first major tournament for Hayley Brown, Hannah MacLeod
and Natalie Seymour. Canterbury’s Hayley Brown picked up her first and only international cap against World Champions The Netherlands in November last year and Leicester’s Hannah
MacLeod, having made her debut at the age of 19 in 2003, only picked up three England caps before being selected in this year’s Champions Challenge squad. Canterbury’s Natalie Seymour was a late call up and comes into the squad as a replacement for Anne Panter who was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Kerry Williams and Becky Herbert both have exam commitments and as a result have not been selected. Injury rehabilitation has been prioritised for Lucilla Wright, Jennie Bimson and
Helen Grant which has meant they are unavailable for selection. Head Coach Danny Kerry, 36, has been in situ since 2004. Kerry was a lecturer at Brunel University and helped the side
to five successive finals in the British Universities Championships, winning three consecutive titles from 1996-1998. The former Loughborough University captain also enjoyed a successful period as coach of Canterbury Ladies in the English Hockey League. Kerry is looking forward to getting back in the competitive arena with England “This will be the first time that the squad has physically been together for a relatively long period of time and we are looking forward to getting into the full swing of the senior international programme. The Champions Challenge tournamentthis year will be particularly tough with a number of top nations such as China,
Korea and New Zealand and I amlooking forward to giving a significant opportunity to a number of players.” Host Country and Venue Five years ago, hockey was not high on Azerbaijan’s agenda, but thanks to some major government intervention, the hockey team has taken great strides forward in the last few years. All of the national players are professional and are sponsored by Ata Holdings. They all live together in Baku and train twice a day. The venue is the only artificial turf in Baku and was used in 2005 when the country
hosted the EuroHockey Nations Trophy which Azerbaijan won.
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