EuroHockey Championships 2019: England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb feeling pressure

Hollie Pearne-Webb of England
England women won just three of 16 matches in the recent FIH Pro League

Olympic gold medallist Hollie Pearne-Webb admits the pressure is on her England team to secure Great Britain's place at next year's Tokyo Games.

The England captain will lead her much-changed side into the EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp, where victory would seal that Olympic place.

"There is a lot of pressure in that we want to qualify and we need to qualify," Pearne-Webb told BBC Sport.

"We need to focus on preparing in the best possible way."

England and Ireland will compete in both the men's and women's divisions starting on 16 August, while Wales and Scotland take part in the men's event.

Netherlands are the defending champions in both the men's and women's competitions, with England finishing third in both at the 2017 Championships,

The BBC will be showing all home nations matches live on the BBC Sport website and connected TVs.

'We're trying to knit everything together'

Results over the last 12 months have been underwhelming as the Great Britain women took just three wins from their 16 games in the inaugural Pro League.

In the three years since GB women's gold medal triumph at the Rio Olympics many from that squad have retired.

"It's a completely different squad with a lot of inexperience. Our game and our style is quite different to what it used to be. And we've also got a new coach and his style is quite different," said Pearne-Webb.

"It's a real development stage but we're now at the business side of the year where we've got to qualify for the Olympics.

"We're trying to knit everything together and I think it's starting to come and hopefully the results will come with it."

Australian Mark Hager is the new England head coach, taking up his post in April as replacement for the Olympic-winning coach Danny Kerry.

"If I'm honest we're a little bit inconsistent and at the moment we're probably not strong enough defensively," said Hager.

"We're really trying to work on things and the frustration for all of us is that it's just not happening fast enough.

"But I've seen a lot of progress and we know that it will happen and I definitely have belief that we can do well at the Euros."

England go into the tournament in Belgium ranked second in Europe behind the Netherlands.

If they do not become European champions over the next fortnight they will likely face a two-legged Olympic qualifier in late October.

Maddie Hinch of England
Hinch saved four Dutch penalties to help Great Britain to Olympic gold medal victory in Rio

However, goalkeeper Maddie Hinch - another hero of Rio - believes the squad can win succeed in Belgium despite what the formbook may suggest.

"I think there are times in the past when we were absolutely not favourites,' said Hinch.

"Just look at Rio itself, we were seventh in the world going into that and not one in the world would have put any money on us to win it.

"I think this group has a huge amount to learn and we're very realistic of where we're at.

"But at the same time the world of hockey has shown that people are beating anyone at any moment.

"I don't think we should get ahead of ourselves and setting big targets but as long as we believe we can win these one-off games it puts us in good stead.

"So, it's Ireland up first and then we'll see where we are after that."

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