The England National squad is now back in training, ahead of the selection of the 12 player squad to contest the World Championships, which will take place on 20 August 2007. And, as Nigel Holl, England Netball’s Performance Director, is keen to point out, the early announcement of the squad should assist the development of a match-ready competitive unit:
photo Kate Fisher
“While we still have some time ahead of the deadline for announcing our World Championships squad, the selectors believe it is vital for those athletes involved to know exactly what they will be facing in the coming months. The Netball Superleague resumes at the end of October, and this announcement will ensure that those franchises which will be losing players for the first few weeks of the season to the World Championships build-up and recovery periods can make appropriate plans for cover during their absence.”
To assist them in their preparations, England Netball has announced four “spotlight” matches, to be played in front of invited audiences around the country, in which the World Championships squad will take on an England A squad, featuring the remaining members of the National squad as well as selected promising athletes from England’s U21 side and the Netball Superleague franchises.
The games, which will be played at the University of Bath (25 August), EIS Sheffield (08 September), Loughborough University Netball Centre (29 September) and the Hertfordshire Sports Village in Hatfield (20 October), have been organised by England Netball’s regional co-ordinators and will provide the invited audiences with the last opportunity to see their national stars in action ahead of the World Championships.
And far from representing an easy workout for the World Championships squad, Holl is certain that they will be hotly contested, highly competitive matches.
“All of the members of the England National squad will be involved in the Spotlight matches, together with other key players from around the country, and all will be looking to continue to impress selectors and maintain form and fitness, with an eye to the challenges to come, both during and after the World Championships. As we saw with the recent test series against Australia and New Zealand, the depth of talent we now have available in this country means that England A can threaten the very best in the world, and I am confident that the invited audiences will witness some thrilling netball as our squad looks to finalise its game plans for Auckland.”
It has also been confirmed that the England World Championships squad will be playing three test matches against long-time rivals Jamaica in Kingston in September. “These test matches, combined with the Spotlight matches, will provide an intensive conclusion to our squad’s preparations and I am confident that they will be in the best possible condition to challenge for a medal when they arrive in Auckland,” concludes Holl.
Further information about the selected World Championships squad, the Spotlight matches and the Jamaica test series will be available at www.englandnetball.co.uk – check back for more details.