sport

Lee sees bright England future

New England women's coach Jason Lee is taking a long-term view as he tackles the challenge of integrating the new with the old.

There have been a number of significant changes almost a year on from the bronze medal win by Great Britain - the majority of whom were English players - at the London Olympics.

Lee has switched sides from the men's squad and there have been a number of retirements including significantly experienced defender and set-piece specialist Crista Cullen and goalkeeper Beth Storry.

Eight Olympic bronze medallists have been named for the World Cup qualifier at the University of Westminster Sports Ground in Chiswick but Lee insists expectations should not be as high as last summer.

Five of the squad have made fewer than 10 appearances, with Bristol Firebrands' Lily Owsley yet to make her debut.

"Helen Richardson (one of his most experienced players) is injured and a few are coming back from injuries which have reduced their involvement," Lee told Press Association Sport.

"We have not had much time together because a lot of the cost people put into going to London means they have had to go back to jobs.

"A third of them have only really started to see a significant amount of (squad) time in June because of exams - in fact Lily Owsley did her final A-Level on Wednesday.

"We are going into the tournament more under-prepared than we would normally be.

"But we always want to be working with the next generation and it is really obvious there is a huge amount of talent in British female hockey.

"They are exceptionally talented and capable so that is why I am optimistic the standard will get better."

Lee has had some adapting to do himself after almost a decade with the men but feels his home life has given him a headstart.

"I live with a wife and a young daughter so that has given me the basics," he joked.

"The hockey is remarkably similar. The men have more pace but the hockey challenges are largely the same."

England face South Africa tomorrow then Australia and Spain, requiring a third-place finish in the eight-team tournament to qualify for next year's World Cup in Holland.