CAPLIN AND ENGLAND RELISHING LOYOLA CHALLENGE
GREG Caplin, the England manager, and his players are relishing the chance to test themselves against top American college side Loyola Greyhounds next week.
The Division One men's NCAA lacrosse team landed in Edinburgh today (Friday) ahead of a ten-day tour which will see them play fixtures in Scotland, England and Ireland.
And for England, who are building towards next year's 2010 World Cup in Manchester (10-24 July), these two scheduled matches provide the perfect opportunity for the current 45-strong squad to impress before the squad gets cut to around 30 players by October.
"It's going to be a really good test for the players, it's a chance to watch and learn from some of the top American players," revealed Caplin.
"We can learn from the intensity in which they play because they are at the cutting edge of the sport. That experience is worth it's weight in gold."
And with the World Cup little over a year away Caplin and head coach Dave Elwood have resisted the temptation to pick their strongest team to make sure of victory.
Instead England are hoping to give as many players as possible the chance to shine and enhance their claim for a place in the final 28-man team.
"We're looking to cut the squad to about 30 players by October and then pick a final 23-man squad nearer the tournament," added Caplin.
"We're probably going to have five reserves, but we don't have to name our squad until the last night before the event.
"But these two matches are important for us, it's a chance to see how well we're playing.
"We played a couple of matches against a Canadian touring side last month, which was good, but this is probably our first really competitive match for a while.
"It's a good chance for the players to step up and impress us. We played Loyola last time we toured America and we found it to be a very beneficial experience.
"The Americans are always superb and you can watch and learn a lot from them."
Loyola face Scotland at the Peffermill Sports Centre tomorrow with the Scots fielding two different teams, before the US side journey to Cheshire to take on England in two matches at Wilmslow Lacrosse Club.
The first of those games is on Monday 1st June, 6.30pm on grass, followed by an astroturf fixture at the same venue two days later, Wednesday 3rd June, 7.00pm face off.
The Greyhounds complete their tour with a match against an Irish Select team at University City College, Dublin, on Saturday 6th June.
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