Faulkner admits England monitoring Delhi threat
ENGLAND Hockey performance director David Faulkner insists they have prepared for the eventuality of withdrawing from the World Cup in Delhi.
TEAM SPIRIT: England players were given the option to withdraw and performance director David Faulkner admits England Hockey still monitoring situation in Delhi (Getty Images)
Security problems have plagued the country in recent years with terrorist threats forcing the England badminton team to withdraw from last year's World Championships in Hyderabad. Also, senior Whitehall officials admitted in January there was ‘virtually no chance' of England sending a team to October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
And the issue of terrorist threats was sharply brought into view earlier this month after the gunfire attack on the Togo national football team in Angola on the eve of the African Cup of Nations.
While Faulkner is adamant they have no current reason to pull out, he insisted the players were all given the option to withdraw and admitted there was a plan in place should any threat occur.
"As of today, there is no intelligence telling us we shouldn't be going to the tournament but that is being monitored regularly," said Faulkner.
"If for any reason valid intelligence does reach our group - direct or indirect - we have a process in place which involves full consultation with the players and the athletes in particular and we're comfortable with that."
Head coach Jason Lee added: "We all know there are security concerns in that area of the world but it's something they don't want to get between them and playing.
"The players are comfortable that there's work going on to resolve the security concerns and we all just want to get on with trying to play good hockey."
Lee's team made giant leaps in 2009, lifting the European Championship for the first time with captain Barry Middleton named in the World Hockey All-star team and 22-year old striker Ashley Jackson becoming the first Englishman to be named World Hockey Young Player of the Year.
And Middleton insists England, ranked sixth in the world, will spring a few surprises in India.
"I'm expecting it to be quite an open World Cup with more upsets than there have been in the last couple of major tournaments," said Middleton.
"It's going to be very different to anything we've had to do before, especially playing against India and Pakistan.
"It's their national sport over there and it's going to be brilliant for us playing in front of enthusiastic crowds. "
Lee added: "We are suddenly going to be a team to be considered potential winners of the World Cup.
"I used to say we'd have to get lucky. I think the difference now is that we think we can make the semi finals without needing to get lucky."