January 31 - Two British Olympic medal winners have been named on the 18-strong England women's hockey squad heading to the Investec Challenge in Cape Town.
Laura Unsworth (pictured top) and Nicola White featured in the bronze medal-winning outfit at the London 2012 Games and will join Beckie Herbert, who is three international caps short of a century, Susie Gilbert and Sam Quek on the England team going to South Africa for the tournament next week.
Goalkeepers Maddie Hinch and Kirsty Mackay, and Dilly Newton and Susannah Townsend, who were involved in the Team GB training squad leading up to last summer's Olympics also make the team, which will face Olympic gold medallists the Netherlands, Australia and hosts South Africa at the week-long event at the Hartleyvale Stadium.
With Gilbert and Unsworth as co-captains for tournament, the team also features a number of promising newcomers – four have made the step up from the successful England under-21 women's squad that won the bronze medal at the Junior EuroHockey Nations Championships last year.
Giselle Ansley, Sarah Haycroft, Jo Hunter and Joanna Leigh all play their club hockey in the Investec Women's Hockey League and were part of the side that overcame Germany in their last game for the under 21s in August, while Hollie Webb, Ellie Watton, Steph Elliot, Sophie Bray and Lauren Turner make up the 18.
The world number four team will be led by Karen Brown, England's most capped hockey player of all time, along with trip coaches England under-21 women's coach Craig Keegan and director of Hockey at Loughborough University David Ralph, a former head coach to the England under 21 men's squad.
"It's a great opportunity for us to look at new players for the next Olympic cycle, as well as providing an opportunity for some players who just missed out on Olympic selection," Brown said.
"The high quality opposition will mean a steep learning curve and with so many established internationals missing I will be interested in which athletes step up and show leadership, and who relishes the extra responsibilities they will have to take on both on and off the pitch."
England will face the hosts South Africa in their opening match on Monday (February 4) before taking on the Dutch the following evening.
An "Ashes" clash with Australia rounds off England's group matches on Thursday (February 7), with semi-finals and medal matches following before the competition concludes on February 10.
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