Hockey World League Final "massive" for England men's team


England captain Barry Middleton says the World League Final, which starts on Friday in Delhi, is of "massive" importance in the context of 2014.

The tournament features eight of the world's best sides and provides a stepping stone to the World Cup and Commonwealth Games later this year.

"It will be nice to test where we are in world hockey," he told BBC Sport.

"We want to build ourselves up to the World Cup which is the big one for us this summer."

England's men have not played in a competitive tournament since they lost the play-off match for bronze against the Netherlands at EuroHockey 2013 in August.

They take on hosts India in their opening Pool A encounter on Friday with the world's top-ranked team and reigning Olympic and European champions Germany and New Zealand completing the group.

Argentina, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands make up Pool B.

England's women won bronze at the equivalent tournament in December, as the Netherlands took gold.

The men's team, currently ranked fourth in the world, finished third in the World League semi-finals last year, and in doing so qualified for the World Cup, which starts in May in the Netherlands.

Speaking about the World League Final, Middleton, 29, said: "It's massive for us as a team.

"We started with a new group of players a year ago, but now we're looking to build into being one of the top teams in the world.

"Maybe this year is a bit soon to say we'll definitely win medals, but that's where we're looking to progress to.

"The girls are doing it, we want to do it as well and that's how we'll judge ourselves.

"We'll be disappointed if we're not playing in big games at the end of tournaments."

England goalkeeper George Pinner, 26, added: "A year like 2014 is the reason you play hockey.

"The Europeans were a big tournament last year, and World League qualifying was vital, but the thing you dream about as a player is winning big medals - the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics."

England men's squad for World League Final:

Alastair Brogdon (Forward), Tom Carson (Forward), Nick Catlin (Midfielder/Forward), David Condon (Midfielder), Adam Dixon (Midfielder/Defender), Dan Fox (Defender), Mark Gleghorne (Forward), Michael Hoare (Defender), Ashley Jackson (Midfielder), Iain Lewers (Defender), Simon Mantell (Forward), Harry Martin (Midfielder), Barry Middleton (Midfielder/Forward), George Pinner (Goalkeeper), Patrick Smith (Goalkeeper), Henry Weir (Midfielder/Defender), Tim Whiteman (Midfielder/Defender), Ollie Willars (Defender).

Barry Middleton and George Pinner were talking to BBC Sport's Ollie Williams

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