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Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

England defender Ali Wilson targets World Cup glory

By Nigel Bell

England and Beeston hockey player Ali Wilson
Wilson believes England have the quality to win the World Cup

Defender Ali Wilson says if England do not progress beyond the group stages of the World Cup in India then they will see their tournament as a failure.

England finished fifth at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and are only ranked sixth in the world.

But the Beeston player, 26, told BBC Nottingham: "To do worse than we did last time would be a backward step."

England, who must finish in the top two of the six-team group to qualify, face Australia in the Pool opener on Sunday.

As well as Australia, England will also face hosts India, Pakistan, Spain and South Africa in Pool B.

Wilson, who played in the last World Cup four years ago, said the squad is confident they can reach the last four of the 12-team competition.

We've got some flair players and if we can keep the general team structure'll give our creative players the platform to win us the games

Ali Wilson

"I'd be very disappointed if we didn't make the semi-finals," he added. "Once we're there, anything can happen.

"That's the thing about the World Cup, everyone has a strong team and each is capable of beating the other.

"It's going to be tough. You can't afford to lose any games. It's important to hit the ground running. One loss can take you out of the equation for the semi-finals."

England arrive in Delhi on the back of winning the European Cup in August. However, their World Cup preparations have suffered because of the weather.

The heavy snow at the turn of the year meant they had to train indoors before a series of friendly games in Spain.

And there are also concerns about security arrangements in the build up to the tournament.

A bomb attack in the Indian city of Pune on 14 February saw 15 people killed.

There have also been alleged threats from groups targeting sporting events - naming cricket's Indian Premier League and the Commonwealth Games, as well as the World Cup, as potential targets - but the England Hockey Board has been taking advice from the authorities and still intends to travel to India.

England hockey player Ashley Jackson
Ashley Jackson could be one of England's key players

Despite the disruptive run-up Wilson remained upbeat about their chances.

"There's plenty of experience in the team. We're certainly capable of doing very well," Wilson added.

"Our game works best when everyone is playing hard and playing a simple game.

"We've got some flair players and if we can keep the general team structure solid and stop the opposition scoring too many goals it'll give our creative players the platform to go and win us the games."

Wilson, who is currently working as a coach at Oakham School in Leicestershire, cited Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton as England's players to watch.

"They're two young skilful forward midfield players. There's plenty of other guys can do it for us but those two stand out."

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see also
Injured Mantell out of World Cup
26 Feb 10 |  Hockey
India assures teams over safety
17 Feb 10 |  Hockey
Beeston prepare for Europe return
22 Oct 09 |  Hockey
England fear World Cup readiness
15 Jan 10 |  Hockey
England keen to go to World Cup
14 Feb 10 |  Hockey
England fail to win on Spain trip
26 Jan 10 |  Hockey
England stun Germans to win title
30 Aug 09 |  Hockey
Hockey on the BBC
17 Aug 07 |  Hockey
Crista Cullen's guide to hockey
07 Aug 08 |  Hockey
Basic rules of hockey
05 Oct 05 |  Hockey

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