Saturday, September 26, 2009


SCOTLAND head coach Russell Garcia admits it's time to blood new talent as his side continue their preparations for November's World Cup qualification tournament in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Scotland will face China, Malaysia, Austria, Wales and the hosts in the round-robin tournament.

But they will first travel to Banbridge, Northern Ireland for three warm-up matches from October 2.

The two sides last met in a 3-3 draw in the Celtic Cup in June before Scotland finished fifth at the EuroHockey Nations Trophy in August.

Jon Royce subsequently left the head coach post with Olympic gold medallist Garcia taking over the reins on a temporary basis.

Twenty Scots have been selected to make the trip to Banbridge, with five set to make their international debut.

And Garcia - who won Olympic gold with Great Britain at Seoul 1998 - admits the fixtures will provide the perfect breeding ground ahead of the trip to New Zealand.

"Ireland will be a real chance for less experienced players to prove themselves with a view to going to the qualifiers - but also looking ahead to the Commonwealth Games," said Garcia.

"One of the things that came out of the recent European Trophy was that the squad was too slow.

"This month the team is going through a speed endurance and strength phase and we'll work on core skills.

"I'm looking to see if the guys can perform physically at a high level of intensity in match games.

"They need to show they can make decisions under pressure. You can push young players to a point but if they're not ready, they're not ready.

"Ireland are playing well - they've developed their team and are ahead of where we are currently. It will be a tough challenge but good for us."