Strike ace Alex is back in the game

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - By Claire Mid­dle­ton

WHILE the fu­ture of Great Bri­tain men’s star Ash­ley Jack­son re­mains up in the air, Mon­day will mark the re­turn to women’s na­tional squad du­ties of Alex Dan­son, the Olympic gold medal­ist and The Hockey Pa­per colum­nist.

Un­like Jack­son, who has said he hopes to re­turn to the fold in April, Dan­son had al­ways planned for her post-Olympic break to end with the ar­rival of spring and in­stead of head­ing to work, or to speak at an­other school func­tion, the high­scor­ing striker will next week be head­ing to Bisham to join up for­mally with her team-mates for the first time since Rio.

She will dis­cover a dif­fer­ent land­scape for although coach Danny Kerry re­mains in charge, as­sis­tants Craig Kee­gan and Karen Brown have moved on and there are a dozen or more new faces to meet and greet among the play­ing squad.

“It’s my last week of work and do­ing all those bits and pieces," she told The Hockey Pa­per.

“I’ve missed be­ing part of the squad but I’ve not felt too re­moved be­cause I’ve been in and around Bisham quite a bit be­cause it’s my near­est venue for train­ing,” said Dan­son, who lives in nearby Maiden­head.

“But I did need time away and it has been a nice bal­ance.

“My New Year res­o­lu­tion was to spend more time hav­ing cups of tea with friends and fam­ily and I’ve to­tally done that.

“When you are in full time train­ing you have to be much more care­ful with your time.”

She won’t be on duty for Clifton Robin­sons as her club side head to Bee­ston for their In­vestec Cup semi­fi­nal for two rea­sons: firstly, she has not played in pre­vi­ous rounds and would not feel right about swoop­ing in at this stage and, sec­ondly, she wants an early night be­fore her ‘real’ job re­sumes.

Great Bri­tain’s men will com­pete in the 26th edi­tion of the Sul­tan Azlan Shah Cup, which takes place from April 27 to May 6 in Ipoh, Malaysia.

The high-qual­ity event will fea­ture teams from Aus­tralia, In­dia, Ja­pan, New Zealand, hosts Malaysia and Bobby Crutch­ley’s men.

Last year, seven teams took part but Canada and Pak­istan have been ditched for 2017 and Great Bri­tain in­vited in­stead.

The Na­tional League’s Fi­nals Week­end take place on April 22-23.

PIC­TURE: PA

Wel­come re­turn: Rio golden girl Alex Dan­son is back in in­ter­na­tional con­tention

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