It’s that time again when in every four years cycle social media goes a little crazy, as hockey fans around the world watch closely for the release of the new National Squads for next Olympic cycle.
For England and GB fans the headline of a new look squad with no less than 15 new faces that lead the charge into Tokyo 2020 was received with intrepidation.
“Has Holcombe HC’s powerhouse forward Gareth Andrews finally been given the chance that he deserves” or “has the young and agile Reading HC’s goalkeeper Tommy Alexander forced his way into the GB set up”. Unfortunately neither, but what is good to see is that Bobby Crutchley has called upon experience, as well as a number of young players promoted from the junior sections to stop the slide down the World Rankings.
The most notable absentee from Rio 2016, Scotland & Surbiton’s Allan Forsyth maintains his position within the squad. As one of the most prolific goalscorers in the National Hockey League, surely it is now high time for Crutchley to look to Forsyth to bridge the gap and provide the goals England and Great Britain are severely lacking.
However, with all the above new faces and much needed change within the central contract one can’t help but notice two major names missing from the list. Firstly, the ever present solid defender Iain Lewers recently announcing his retirement from international hockey, forced or his own choice, speculation is rife. The biggest surprise of all is England hockey are missing their talisman, Ashley Jackson and one of only two truly world star players from the Rio selection.
Ashley has made himself unavailable for selection for the foreseeable future. Does this mean just 2017 including the Hockey World League or is this longer term with Ashley taking himself out of contention for the next two years, including the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia 2018. Why has it come to this? What has happened in the national camp for England and Great Britain’s highest ever goalscorer to take himself out of contention to be selected to represent his country………. A disagreement of the new direction for England Hockey? Burnout? Or simply after being such an integral part of the team for so long he has decided to just take a break?
Photo Credit: GB Hockey