Ahead of the 2014 Rabobank World Cup, which runs from 31 May – 15 June, England Men’s Head Coach Bobby Crutchley has named his squad of 18 athletes to travel out to The Hague in the Netherlands.

All of England’s matches will be shown live on Sky; the first game will be against Spain at16:30 (UK time) on Saturday 31 May. Further information will be announced closer to the tournament.

The squad
Returning to the 18 man squad is Wimbledon’s Henry Weir who has recovered from an ankle injury which kept him sidelined for several months; the defender made his return against the Netherlands last week. Reading’s Dan Shingles has also kept his place in the squad following an injury-free period which has seen him make good progress both in training and recent matches to impress Crutchley.

England Captain, Barry Middleton
England captain Barry Middleton will make his 200th appearance for England on Thursday when his side faces the Netherlands in Dusseldorf at a Four Nations World Cup warm-up tournament. Following that game Middleton will only need three more caps to become the most capped England & GB men’s international player of all time with 308 appearances – surpassing Russell Garcia, who previously held the record at 307. Assuming he plays in England’s next four matches he will achieve this feat against Australia at Bisham Abbey on 24th May.

Middleton has never been one for the spotlight, preferring to let his world-class performances on the pitch do the talking, but it is how he combines this talent and ability [on the pitch] with his leadership and commitment to the team behind the scenes that impresses Crutchley the most. “As a player Barry is a consummate professional; his approach to both his training and his own personal development allows him to keep making improvements even after a decade of playing at the very top. As a captain, he leads by example and is incredibly selfless; all the lads in the squad have a huge amount of respect for him and it’s been great to watch his leadership of the group develop across the five years since he took the Captain’s armband back in 2009.”

Adam Dixon, Beeston
Another player with whom Crutchley is not short on admiration is Adam Dixon who will gain his 100th cap over the course of the World Cup if his recovery from an ankle injury continues to go to plan. Dixon suffered ligament damage during the Euro Hockey League KO16 in Eindhoven at Easter. Crutchley added, “Adam has been a key player for us across the last 18 months and his performances at tournaments during 2013 and 14 have been consistently high.” Wimbledon’s Phil Roper will replace Dixon at the Four Nations in Dusseldorf whilst Dixon continues his rehabilitation at Bisham Abbey.

Pool A – the opponents
England are in Pool A with Australia, Belgium, India, Malaysia and Spain, and are the second highest FIH world-ranked team in the group at number four, with only Australia – the men’s world number 1 – above them.

Crutchley is under no illusions about how tough it will be to finish in the top two and make the semi-finals. “There isn’t an easy game at a World Cup and we’re facing some quality opposition in our group, however I’ve seen this team consistently improve over the last 12 months and I think we can be contenders for a top two finish.”

On England’s opponents Crutchley added, “Our first match is against Spain who are a bit of an unknown entity at the moment, but we always have tough matches against them. India have been in a rebuilding phase with Terry Walsh as their coach and it will be interesting to see the impact he has had on the talent in that squad. Then with Australia [world number one side] and Belgium to face in our last two games we’ll need to be consistently at the top of our game throughout the group stages.”

World Cup build-up
Between now and the World Cup England will face five World Cup teams as they continue preparations. Information about the fixtures can be found below.

4 Nations – Dusseldorf, Germany, 14-18 May 2014
• Link to schedule
• England men head off to Germany for training and a second four nations tournament against Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, before heading back to England for their squad announcement.

Date Match M/W                             Time (UK) Venue Capped
24 May England v Australia M 1200 hrs Bisham Yes
25 May England v Australia M 1500 hrs Bisham Yes
28 May England v Korea M 1400 hrs The Hague No

Rabobank Hockey World Cup squad
Shirt # Name Club Position
1 – George Pinner – Beeston – Goalkeeper
2 – James Bailey – Reading – Goalkeeper
6 – Henry Weir – Wimbledon – Midfield
7 – Ashley Jackson – East Grinstead – Midfield/Forward
8 – Simon Mantell – Reading – Forward
9 – Harry Martin – Beeston – Midfield
11 – Alastair Brogdon – Wimbledon – Forward
12 – Michael Hoare – Wimbledon – Defender
16 – Adam Dixon – Beeston – Defender/Midfield
18 – Barry Middleton – Holcombe – Midfield/Forward
20 – Dan Shingles – Reading – Midfield
21 – Tim Whiteman – Beeston – Midfield/Defender
22 – David Condon – East Grinstead – Midfield
23 – Tom Carson – Reading – Forward
24 – Iain Lewers – East Grinstead – Defender
26 – Nick Catlin – Reading – Midfield/Forward
27 – Dan Fox – Holcombe – Defender
28 – Mark Gleghorne – East Grinstead – Forward

Photograph: Barry Middleton set to become GB and England’s most capped player (Ady Kerry (c))