The pressure is still on for Scotland’s Senior Women’s this weekend as they travel to Auderghem in Belgium to play three matches. The team has been enduring the selection process for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in their recent matches, with head coach Gordon Shepherd having to cut his squad down from 30 to an eventual 16 by the end of the month.


Shepherd has repeatedly highlighted the quality of his side and thus the difficulty when it comes to selection. Nevertheless two more players have by necessity been relegated to reserve status, as Shepherd tells us, “The Squad is down to 18 players with two non-travelling reserves, who are Laura Wrightson and Susan Hamilton. I’ve told the players that as usual the selection was performance based, I simply picked the best 18 players.”


The team may be glad of the opportunity to play against opponents closer to their level this weekend. Shepherd’s side played their last round of training games against Olympic and World Champions the Netherlands, where they were pushed to their limit. This was always something Shepherd expected, and even relished, as he says, “Playing against the Dutch was, as we expected, extremely tough. They are the World Champions and we had our backs against the wall most of the time, we really had to concentrate on our defensive game. While Belgium have an excellent team they are more closely ranked to Scotland in the world rankings. We should be able to play our own game more. We will be on the offensive far more and will be able to work on our tactical set-ups.”


With Belgium ranked only five places ahead of Scotland in the world rankings compared to the Netherlands eighteen, the side will have to hope that they can compete well this weekend if they are to have a chance in Delhi this October. The Belgians aren’t the only thing they will have to compete with however, tiredness will play its part as they play one game on the evening of their arrival in Auderghem and then two more in less than 48 hours.


Though Glasgow Western player Morag McLellan looks to earn her first Scotland cap this weekend she has experienced the trials of international play before for the under-21 side, only last week taking part in the Eurohockey Junior Nations Championship in France. She still has a long road ahead of her before she can hope to match the achievement of her captain Linda Clement, who should receive her 150th cap against the Belgians.


Scotland Women: Abi Walker (Canterbury Ladies), Carmin Dow, Vikki Bunce (Dundee Wanderers), Becky Merchant, Leigh Fawcett, Kat Cameron, Louise Baxter, Nikki Kidd, Ailsa Robertson, Alison Bell, Linda Clement, Aimee Clark (Grove HC), Catriona Forrest, Holly Cram, Sam Judge, Morag McLellan (Glasgow Western HC), Kareena Marshall (Giffnock), Emily Maguire (Reading HC)


Source: Scottish Hockey Union