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Surbiton strong enough for European debut
Surbiton men’s head coach Todd Williams reckons he has the squad to compete in Europe, but admits domestic glory remains the priority.
Williams takes his men to Barcelona this weekend for their Euro Hockey League debut on the back of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at defending MHL Premier League champions Beeston.
Surbiton crashed to the Nottingham club in the championship play off semi-finals in April, but their top four domestic league finish saw them qualify for Europe.
And while Williams, whose side take on SV Arminen tonight and hosts RC Polo De Barcelona on Sunday, is looking forward to the European adventure, becoming kings of England is his main motivation.
“We had to strengthen the squad over the summer and we have done that,” said the Australian.
“We did not play well enough in the league to win it last year, but that is what we want to do this year.
“That is the priority for me. We have to play well enough to be in that top four at the end of the season, to give us that chance.
“It won’t matter how well we do in Europe this season, if we do not manage to qualify again, so the league is definitely what we are mainly focused on.
“Players like Rob Moore, James Tindall and Matt Daly are no longer in the England set-up. That is partly why I expect us to be stronger as a whole this year.”
Emily Atkinson was the toast of Sugden Road after her goal eight minutes from time preserved Surbiton’s unbeaten WHL Premier League record on Saturday.
Atkinson’s strike secured a 1-1 draw at Leicester, but the stalemate meant coach Brett Garrard’s side slipped to fifth in the table with results elsewhere going against them.
Surbiton, who have drawn Brooklands Poynton in the second round of the national cup, host third-placed Reading on Saturday.
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