Under-21 coach says future is bright for English hockey
UNDER-21 coach Craig Parnham insists the strength in depth in English hockey has never been better as he looks ahead to 2012.
Fierce competition for a spot in the England squad will dominate women's hockey in the lead up to the Olympics, vowed the England coach, who will be striving for a podium finish on home turf.
"Eight players in the senior squad are under 21 and with a new group of talent coming up it's going to be very competitive to secure a place in the team for 2012.
"Podium funding from UK sport piles the pressure on for our good young players and established players to play their best and bag a medal."
Parnham believes that the next three years are going to be very interesting as some promising players are coming up through the ranks.
"Sarah Page, who played well at the Euro Hockey Junior Nations Championships in Valencia in 2008, and eleven times capped Sam Queg have both been performing well and are certainly two young players to keep an eye on in the lead up to the Olympics."
Parnham has selected eight of the players who won gold as Great Britain Youth (U21) in January at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney to tackle Spain over the Easter weekend at Nottingham's Highfields Hockey Centre.
"It will give me a chance to assess players who have little or no experience with England such as Poynton centre back Kirsty Dawson and Emma McCabe who plays for Olton and West Warwickshire," said Parnham.
"It will be interesting to see how we compare to Spain who traditionally produces strong team."
"We're confident going into the game following the success at the youth games where the girls put in some great performances.
"Half of the squad are from the team that won gold, the other half is made up with players I have assessed from clubs so are a bit older.
"The matches against Spain are the first in the build up to the Junior World cup in August and it depends how well the team play together and how individuals perform as to whether they'll be included in the squad that will travel to Boston, USA, in the summer."