Ipswich-born goalkeeper George Pinner preparing for England versus Australia at FIH Champions Trophy

George Pinner

George Pinner - Credit: ffu.nl/Frank Uijlenbroek

Ipswich’s George Pinner has played down the ‘Ashes’ tag ahead of England’s opening game of the FIH Champions Trophy which begins in India on Saturday.

Pinner should start in goal for Commonwealth Games bronze medallists England against an Australia team that are targeting their sixth straight Champions Trophy title.

England will also face Pakistan and Belgium in Pool A, in the qualifying stages, but the Australia contest is the game that has been hyped up the most

“The players were speaking about this recently and find it annoying that the England v Australia game is referred to as The Ashes,” said Pinner, speaking from his hotel in Bhubaneswar.

“The Ashes is a cricket game and we don’t see it like that. It’s not a special game for us.”

“They are the number one team in the world and they just play really hard, aggressive hockey – they get in your faces.

“Even if you win a game 5-0, you are never going to get an easy game against Australia and we will have to match their intensity.”

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England will play three round-robin games and their final position in the group stages will determine who they play from the other group in the knock-out stages.

“If we were to finish top of our group, we would play the team finishing bottom of the other group (in the quarter-final),” said Pinner.

“You could have the situation where you win all your group games before being beaten in the knock-out stages to a team that lost all of theirs.

“We want to do well in the tournament and play to the best of our ability, but we will also have one eye on the World League, in Belgium (with Great Britain) in June which are essentially qualifiers for the Olympics.

“We will be looking to work on things and develop as a team in the next couple of weeks, ahead of what is a very big tournament.

“It would be nice to win a medal and having won bronze medals at the World League and Commonwealth Games it can be a bit frustrating at times that we didn’t go further.

“At the same time, we can’t forget we are ranked fourth or fifth in the world and, to a degree, we are playing above our ranking. There is not much between the top six to eight teams in the world.”

England go into the Champions Trophy without the services of Pinner’s team-mate and fellow ex-Ipswich School pupil, Harry Martin who has a bruised foot.

“It’s disappointing for “H”, he sustained the injury playing for Beeston against my team, Holcombe in a cup game,” revealed Pinner.

“They emerged 2-1 winners and he scored one of the goals from a goalmouth melee.

“He does not know how he sustained the injury but he suffered bruising.

“It’s frustrating as he is a big player for us, but with everyone having an eye on the future, it gives the selectors a chance to gather together a big group of players and give them international exposure.

“That can only be good for tournaments such as the Olympic Games.”

FIH Champions Trophy POOL A: England, Australia, Belgium, Pakistan POOL B: Argentina, Netherlands, India, Germany

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