Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Davies named in England squad for European Team Championship

IAN WRIGHT today named a 12-strong Team England squad for the European Team Championship at Echo Arena in Liverpool from February 10-15.

And Cheshire's Helen Davies looks set to make her home England debut in the group stages when the second seeds face the Czech Republic, Wales and Scotland.

Team England are seeded to top their group and if they reach the knockout stages then they can expect to face a likely quarter-final against Ukraine and a semi-final against Poland or the Netherlands.

Davies, 22, from the Wirral, celebrated her first senior appearance with a win in women's singles in the 3-2 defeat by Poland in Warsaw in early December.

Avon's Mariana Agathangelou, who won the Bank of Scotland International Championship and the Yonex Welsh Open with Scotland's Jillie Cooper, is also rewarded for her good form with a place in the squad.

Team manager Wright can call on the experience of his senior players while taking the opportunity to give younger squad members a taste of the big occasion. Nathan Robertson, with 93 England caps, and European champions Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg (31 next week) know how to handle themselves in pressure situations while Davies and teenagers Chris Adcock and Gabby White represent the stars of the future.

Wright said: "We've gone for youth and experience. This is the start of a new cycle and we are trying to phase in some of the younger players. With home advantage in Liverpool, this is the perfect opportunity to do that.

"We are also planning to take some of the other emerging players to Liverpool to wear the England track suit and sample the atmosphere. We want to start filtering in the young players as and when the opportunity presents itself."

The squad includes three men from Notts (Robertson, Clark and Adcock), two women from Leeds (Wallwork and White) and two players with Jersey roots (Cann and Agathangelou).

If Robertson were to play in every match and England reached the final he would move to 99 England appearances, Kellogg is one short of 80 caps, while former Scotland international Blair is four away from 50 for England.

The full squad for the Center Parcs-supported Team England is:

Chris Adcock (Notts, age 19, 4 caps)
Robert Blair (Leics, age 27, 46 caps)
Anthony Clark (Notts, age 31, 82 caps)
Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex, age 22, 22 caps)
Nathan Robertson (Notts, age 31, 93 caps)
Andrew Smith (Hants, age 28, 28 caps)

Mariana Agathangelou (Avon, age 20, 3 caps)
Elizabeth Cann (Jersey, age 29, 22 caps)
Helen Davies (Cheshire, age 22, 1 cap)
Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire, age 30, 79 caps)
Jenny Wallwork (Yorkshire, age 22, 12 caps)
Gabby White (Yorkshire, age 18, 4 caps)

Non-travelling reserves: Ben Beckman (Surrey), Andrew Ellis (Yorks), Sarah Walker (Essex).