Defending champion Greg Rutherford leads the England athletics team for Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images

England athletics team leader Martin Rush has predicted that a 75-strong team selected for next year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast today will face "significant challenges" competing in Australia but is still predicting a "barrel-load" of medals.

The team features former world and Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, seeking to defend the title he won at Glasgow 2014. 

Olympic hammer throw bronze medallist Sophie Hitcheon, London 2012 high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, and world and Olympic 4x100m relay medallist Dina Asher-Smith are also chosen.

Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Danny Talbot, three members of the quartet who clinched 4x100 metres relay gold at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in London in August, are all selected.

Anchor leg runner Chijindu Ujah is not selected, however, as he prioritises competing at the World Indoor Championships taking place in Birmingham from March 1 to 4. 

"I think you’d be really strange if you are going into any competition not trying to be number one, absolutely," Rush told insidethegames here today.

"We’ve selected a really strong team and if athlete does their best, we will come home with a barrel-load of medals."

Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, right, and race-walker Tom Bosworth, left, were among those selected today ©Twitter
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, right, and race-walker Tom Bosworth, left, were among those selected today ©Twitter

Rush admitted, however, that the Games, due to take place from April 4 to 15 next year, presents additional challenges as comes so early in the season. 

Competing in the heat of Australia will be another factor.

"I think we saw in Melbourne in 2006 and at other events that it is always a significant challenge for northern hemisphere teams to go Down Under," he said.

England won five gold medals at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

This included two in Paralympic events - with selections still due to be made in these categories this time around.

The 75-strong team is smaller than squads for the last three Games.

A squad of 129 competed in Glasgow and there were 100 athletes at Delhi in 2010 and 89 at Melbourne 2006.

"This was the allocation from the Commonwealth Games Federation and Gold Coast 2018," said Rush

"It’s meant we’ve restricted the numbers and It has meant that we’ve taken the best athletes judged by the policy we’ve set."

There were runners are selected for the men's marathon event, despite Jonny Mellor having comfortably run inside the qualifying time in a breakthrough 2 hours 12min 57sec in Berlin last month.

This put him second in the British rankings for 2017 in between Scotland's Callum Hawkins and Wales' Joshua Griffiths

Mellor has tweeted that he was "very disappointed not to be selected for the Commonwealth Games despite working so hard to run 63-secs inside the qualifying standard..."Scott Overall, a London 2012 Olympian over 26.2 miles, was among others to criticise the decision on Twitter.

He accused England Athletics of not giving opportunities to top marathon runners, adding "Jonny Mellor deserves to go to the Gold Coast".

The governing body, however, insist that their hands were tied by the size of the team and that they had to make tough decisions.

It is not thought that anyone omitted has any chance of being added a later stage as the appeals process has been completed.

This could potentially change if others withdraw, however.

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah is an expected omission as he steps up to the marathon in 2018.