Last Updated: 20/09/22 11:37am
Chelsea Pitman returns to the Vitality Roses squad for England’s forthcoming series against Uganda, live on Sky Sports, while head coach Jess Thirlby has also named further squads to face Australia and for the FAST5 Netball World Series.
England will play their first Tests since this summer’s Commonwealth Games by hosting the She Cranes over three dates in October.
The first Test will be held in Nottingham on October 5, before two further Tests take place at the Copper Box Arena in London on October 8 and 9.
Pitman was recently announced as one of London Pulse’s new signings for the 2023 Vitality Netball Superleague season, swapping a place as a training partner in Suncorp Super Netball for England’s elite competition.
The mid-courter, who won a Commonwealth Games gold medal with England in 2018, brings experience and flair to Thirlby’s attack-end for this series.
A mixture of experienced stars and exciting prospects are spread across the three squads, setting up new partnerships as we head into an exciting year for international netball with the Netball World Cup in South Africa beginning in July 2023.
Amongst the 15, Alice Harvey, Ellie Rattu and Olivia Tchine have been called up from the Vitality Roses programme for their first senior international series.
Future Roses Natasha Pavelin and Paige Reed also receive their first senior call-ups, while a number of senior players have been given extended recovery time, and George Fisher is unavailable after deciding to take a temporary break from international competition.
“To have so many opportunities against world-class opposition so soon after the Commonwealth Games allows us to quickly turn our attention to the exciting year ahead,” head coach Thirlby said.
“Now, more than ever the margins between the top nations are at their narrowest, making for a very dynamic and competitive landscape for the global game.
“The competition is fierce, and to get opportunities to expose new and emerging talent as well as our existing players is critical in helping to strengthen the team, and for us to continue to uncover and gain advantage over our toughest opposition.”
Speaking about the Uganda series, Thirlby added: “We were really pleased how well we dealt to the challenge of Uganda at the Commonwealth Games. However, Uganda went on to find some of their best form in Birmingham, beating South Africa and gaining automatic qualification for the World Cup in 2023.
“They will be full of confidence, and we are under no illusion as to how competitive the three matches will be. With both next year and the longer term in mind, it provides a perfect test of a new-look Roses side, full of exciting talent to embrace and we will be buoyed to have the support of our home fans.”
Following the Uganda series, the Roses fly to Australia for the first time since 2018 to face the Commonwealth Games champions in a three-match international series.
“To play the world number one team and Commonwealth Games champions on their home soil is something we’ve been keen to do ever since Covid hijacked our plans back in the autumn of 2020,” said Thirlby.
“We know how important it is to play the best teams frequently and in conditions that best prepare us for major tournaments. We look forward to the challenge and to welcoming a few new faces to the team.”
On November 5 and 6, a squad of 10 players will then take part in the FAST5 Netball World Series in New Zealand – a shorter, faster-paced version of the game with five players on each side.
Thirlby said: “The return of FAST5 is a welcome addition to our international calendar as world netball look to strengthen the breadth of the game and its appeal.
“For us, it affords further opportunity to expose new and emerging talent to the conditions of international netball and will help accelerate some key learnings for those younger athletes who have recently missed out on a World Youth Cup due to Covid and those on the periphery of the team narrowly missing out on selection for recent senior events.”
Vitality Roses squad to face Uganda: Imogen Allison, Eleanor Cardwell, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Zara Everitt, Funmi Fadoju, Alice Harvey, Hannah Joseph, Laura Malcolm, Natalie Panagarry, Natasha Pavelin, Chelsea Pitman, Ellie Rattu, Paige Reed, Olivia Tchine, Fran Williams.
Vitality Roses squad to face Australia: Imogen Allison, Eleanor Cardwell, Jade Clarke, Beth Cobden, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Funmi Fadoju, Layla Guscoth, Jo Harten, Alice Harvey, Helen Housby, Hannah Joseph, Laura Malcolm, Geva Mentor, Natalie Metcalf, Olivia Tchine, Fran Williams.
Vitality Roses squad to compete at FAST5 Netball World Series: Zara Everitt, Elle McDonald*, Taylor McKevitt, Natasha Pavelin, Lois Pearson, Jayda Pechova, Ellie Rattu, Paige Reed, Alicia Scholes, Emma Thacker.
*Awaiting British passport to finalise eligibility
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