England’s Barry Middleton eyes successful Hockey World Cup
England hockey star Barry Middleston is hoping to kick start a successful summer at Hockey World Cup
He may be setting milestones when it comes to international appearances but Marlow-based Barry Middleton insists he is more focused on kick starting a successful summer for England at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague.
The 30-year-old brought up his 200th England cap against World Cup hosts the Netherlands during the recent Four Nations before adding to that tally with further outings against fellow European opponents Germany and Belgium.
Currently level with 1988 Olympic gold medallist Russell Garcia with 307 caps for both England and Great Britain combined, Middleton will move clear outright in the team’s final World Cup warm-up games against Australia.
For me the most important thing right now is our preparations for the World Cup and ultimately results in the World Cup
England have never previously lifted the World Cup and have been drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, Belgium, India, Malaysia and reigning champions and world No.1 ranked side Australia in the Netherlands.
Middleton helped England beat Australia to bronze at January’s World League Final having lost to New Zealand in a semi-final shoot-out and the captain believes they can soon set an example for England’s footballers to follow in Brazil.
“Preparations have gone well, we are probably where we need to be heading into the World Cup,” said Middleton, who will lead his team out against Spain in their World Cup opener on May 31 in The Hague.
“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.
“All these things like caps along the way are nice when you look back on them fondly but when you are in it, you don’t really worry too much about it.
“For me the most important thing right now is our preparations for the World Cup and ultimately results in the World Cup.”
With over 300 international caps to his name as well as the experience of three Olympic Games, Middleton heads up an England squad with no fewer than 11 set to make their World Cup debut.
But, with a mixture of old and new, captain Middleton believes England have the right blend for success having lost in the bronze-medal match to the Netherlands four years ago.
“It’s a new team that have come together since the London 2012 Olympics and where we have come from 18 months ago is amazing to see,” he added.
“It’s our job to look after the younger ones but we actually want to let them be free as well. One of the good things with the younger guys is they can bring their energy to us older guys and have that innocence to youth that hasn’t been there before.”
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