THREE Bucks stars will be wearing the red and white of England when the World Cup starts this week.
No, it’s not that World Cup. It’s the Hockey World Cup taking place in The Hague and Marlow’s Barry Middleton, High Wycombe-based Ashley Jackson and George Pinner of Beaconsfield will by trying to lead their country to gold for the first time in history.
England push off their campaign, which runs from May 31 to June 15, against Spain on Saturday before further group games against Belgium, India, Malaysia and Australia.
Barry Middleton, 30:
“Preparations have gone well, we are probably where we need to be heading into the World Cup.
“As a country we probably still have a bit of a complex about penalties. We’ve been practising them and I think we’ve had to because there are new rules with it being shoot-outs now more like it is in ice hockey.
“Hockey is such a close sport between the top four or five teams now that if you are going to win it, you are probably going to have to win one game on penalties in some way. Hopefully we can set an example for the footballers, although the pressure on them is much greater.”
Ashley Jackson, 26:
“We’re excited going into it and we’re feeling good about things.
“I still get excited and this new squad we have now has a lot of new and young guys and that has probably helped some of us older guys get out of the stale run we felt before we were in London.
“I’m happy with my form. It could always be better I guess but I’m as fit as I’ve been for years. The expectation is to win the World Cup but we’re in a really tough group where any two of the four teams can get out and once they are out of the group it’s really anyone’s game in the semi-final.”
George Pinner, 27:
“As a player you don’t dream of getting a bronze medal and you don’t dream of losing in a final, you dream of winning a gold medal,” said Pinner.
“Ultimately that is the aim but we’ll see but if you asked me if I would take a bronze medal now then I wouldn’t.
“The aim is to win medals but the number one priority for us right now is to get out of the group.”
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