Scotland Women Head Coach Gordon Shepherd has revealed the squad of eighteen players for the FIH Champions Challenge competition taking place in Dublin, Ireland from 29 September-7 October.
The Scots claimed a bronze medal in last year's FIH Champions Challenge and eleven members of that squad will travel back to Dublin for participation in this season's competition. Shepherd has elevated a number of U21 players to the senior squad since then, whilst new faces have forced their way into the Dundonian's plans.
"I've been delighted with all the under 21 players who have made the step up to the senior squad and they have made a real impression this summer", said Shepherd.
"The likes of Aileen Davis, Susan McGilveray and Nikki Lloyd have also successfully demonstrated their cases for inclusion in the squad after excellent performances. They should all be happy with their selection."
This year, Scotland will face hosts Ireland, South Africa and USA in Pool A, whilst Australia, Belgium, India and Wales make up the remainder of the competing teams in Pool B.
Assessing the opposition the Scots will face in the Pool stage, Shepherd said, "The most important target is to retain our place in this competition, which means finishing in the top six. I'm confident we can beat Ireland, and in a one-off match, the result against South Africa could go either way. The Americans have made a number of changes since London 2012 and they will present a tough opening match for us in Dublin."
Indeed, Shepherd will have recent international matches against Ireland and South Africa to reflect upon as he plots his side's way through the competition. The Scots edged out the Irish 2-1 in a three match series at Auchenhowie in early September, but will expect a tough examination from the South Africans, who defeated the national side 4-0 in a five match series at Clydesdale as part of their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Having lost out 3-0 to USA at the semi-final stage of last year's Champions Challenge, Scotland will also be wary of the threat posed from the Americans to their progress. Although the USA finished last in the Olympic Games hockey competition this summer, they can still be regarded amongst the favourites to reach the latter stages.
Edinburgh University's Nikki Kidd will win her 100th international cap for Scotland during the competition, whilst Surbiton's Becky Merchant and Giffnock's Kareena Marshall are both in line to reach the 50th cap milestone.
"Nikki Kidd has been a fantastic asset to the national side since she moved into the midfield position. She's become a real threat from short corner set plays and I'm delighted with her contribution. Reaching 100 caps is an amazing achievement and she should be proud." said Shepherd.
Scotland Women: Nicki Cochrane, Ali Bell, Linda Clement (c), Leigh Fawcett, Ailsa Wyllie (all Grove Menzieshill), Catriona Ralph, Susan McGilveray, Nicola Skrastin, Amy Gibson, Morag McLellan (all Milne Craig Clydesdale Western), Samantha Judge, Sarah Robertson, Nikki Kidd (all Edinburgh University), Vikki Bunce (VWS Dundee Wanderers), Kareena Marshall (Giffnock), Becky Merchant (Surbiton HC), Aileen Davis (Clifton HC), Nikki Lloyd (Sevenoaks HC).
Please visit the FIH Champions Challenge website for more info on match schedule, results and news.
Scottish Hockey Union media release