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Danson named women’s hockey captain

PUBLISHED: 11:17 09 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:17 09 June 2017

Alex Danson has been named women's hockey captain (pic Rebekah Taylor)

Alex Danson has been named women's hockey captain (pic Rebekah Taylor)

© 2017 Rebekah Taylor

Defroand included in squad for Investec Internationals

Alex Danson in action for England women (pic Koen Suyk/England Hockey) Alex Danson in action for England women (pic Koen Suyk/England Hockey)

Alex Danson has been named women’s captain for this summer’s major international hockey events.

Danson is one of England and Great Britain’s greatest ever hockey players, and has 99 goals and 272 caps to her name since making her international debut aged just 16.

The 32-year-old forward will first lead England for this weekend’s Investec Internationals in London, as well as July’s Hockey World League in South Africa, then August’s EuroHockey Championships when England go to Holland as defending champions.

A permanent captain and wider leadership group will be selected later in 2017 and head coach Danny Kerry has named a 20-strong squad to take on Argentina and Holland at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Investec Internationals.

Alex Danson celebrates a goal for Great Britain at the Rio Olympics 9pic Frank Uijlenbroek/England Hockey) Alex Danson celebrates a goal for Great Britain at the Rio Olympics 9pic Frank Uijlenbroek/England Hockey)

Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch is back in the international fold for the first time since winning gold at the Rio Olympics, having been playing in Holland for a season.

Alongside captain Danson, the squad also includes Olympic champions Laura Unsworth, Susannah Townsend, Sophie Bray, Hollie Webb, Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley and Nicola White, but Giselle Ansley is unavailable and will have surgery on a facial injury on Saturday.

The squad also includes a number of new faces, including Havering’s Emily Defroand, who will play on home soil for the first time in an exciting stage of their development.

Kerry said: “We are excited about the upcoming matches and as ever we play to win. Having said that the bigger picture is about looking at some combinations to help us make the best possible selection for the World League. To that end we will be trying some options and exploring the performance of those against some very good opposition.

Emily Defroand (back row, third from left) made her senior England debut in South Africa (pic England Hockey) Emily Defroand (back row, third from left) made her senior England debut in South Africa (pic England Hockey)

“I look forward to seeing Alex lead the team through these games and the summer. Her breadth of experience, her natural empathy for both individuals and the wider performance needs will stand her in good stead over the coming summer tournaments. I believe we have an excellent group of leaders throughout the team and Alex is the visible sign of that and embodies the values of our group.”

Danson added: “It is a huge honour to be handed this captaincy for the summer and to lead a fantastic squad in some very important tournaments. We have a team full of very good leaders so in many ways I will be undertaking the exact same role as normal, and each and every one of us will give our all for the cause.

“I remember as a youngster, dreaming just to be part of the central programme with England and Great Britain, and now the entire squad strives every day to be successful for the country.

“It is great to be playing at home this weekend in the Investec Internationals, we have lots of special memories on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and given the growth of the sport since Rio, I think the games against Argentina and Holland are going to be pretty spectacular.”

Tickets remain on sale for Saturday’s game with Argentina, which begins at 2pm at the legacy venue on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and seats are priced from £7.50 for U18s and £19.50 adults in advance, rising by £2.50 on the day of the game.

The Holland match at 2pm on Sunday is completely sold out, with both games live on BT Sport.

Athletes will sign autographs pitchside after each match and under-18 ticket holders from the Family Stand will be allowed to play hockey on the pitch.

England squad: Maddie Hinch (GK), Amy Tennant (GK), Zoe Shipperley, Laura Unsworth, Sarah Haycroft, Anna Toman, Hannah Martin, Susannah Townsend, Susie Gilbert, Joie Leigh, Alex Danson (C), Emily Defroand, Sophie Bray, Hollie Webb, Ellie Watton, Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley, Jo Hunter, Nicola White, Grace Balsdon.

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