Scott welcomes back old hands as U21s sit out Brussels match series

IRISH coach David Scott has to plan without his U-21 talent, but will welcome the return of five experienced internationals for a three-game series with Belgium in Brussels later this month.

The U-21 players will not travel, to allow them concentrate on preparations for their European championships at the end of July. However Nigel Henderson (51 caps), Gordon Elliott (38), Justin Sheriff (49), Jason Black (59) and Mark Black (24) all return after missing the recent Celtic Cup through injury or other commitments.

The games in Brussels are on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (July 15-18).

For Mark Black, the trip is especially welcome after missing out the entire 2003 season with a cruciate ligament injury.

Three Belgium-based players who play for Royal Dragons Stephen Butler, Graham Shaw and Joe Brennan are named in the 19-man squad and Ireland will be hoping their local knowledge will stand them in good stead in the three match series.

Justin Sheriff's return to the international fold with another appearance in a green shirt will see him collect his 50th cap for Ireland, amassing an impressive 33 goals so far and he was one of the leading marksmen in the recent European Championships.

The Belgians will provide a reliable barometer of the depth of Scott's squad they are ranked 14th in the world and finished sixth in Europe last year. They were pipped from Olympic qualification in Athens by Great Britain and South Africa.

Ireland's U-21 women continue their countdown to the European Junior Championship at the National Hockey Stadium in Dublin from July 25/31, 2004, with three games against their Canadian counterparts this weekend. Coach Stephen Jackson has named his 18 for the Europeans with Sarah Cooney (Loreto), who had been named as first reserve, replacing UCD's Sarah O'Connor who has been forced to withdraw due to injury.

The games are at 6pm tomorrow, 2pm on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Ireland men's squad: W. Bateman (Cork Harlequins), M. Black (Cork C of I), J Black (Cork Harlequins), P. Brown (Instonians), S. Butler (Royal Dragons), D. Eakins (Cork Harlequins), G. Elliott (Pembroke Wanderers), N. Henderson, C. Henderson (Corinthians), M. Irwin (Instonians), G. Shaw (Royal Dragons), J. Sherriff (Pembroke Wanderers), B. Waring (Lisnagarvey), J. Brennan (Royal Dragons), S. Nicholson (Cork Harlequins), A. Barbour (Cookstown), J. Quigley (Annadale), D. Robb (Annadale), P. Smith (Cork C of I).

Ireland U21 women: A. Lappin (Randalstown), S. Frey (Old Alex), S. Cooney (Loreto), S. Connery (UCC), J. Deacon (Newtown School), K. Hales (Cork C of I), E. Harte (Bandon), N. Keegan (Loreto), R. Keegan (UCD), J. Lynch (Loreto), S. Martin (Pegasus, capt.), K. McCollum (Pegasus), C. McGowan (Corinthian), C. Murphy (Galway), K. Simpson (Pegasus), C. Sullivan (UCD), C. Quinlan (Hermes), S. Wilkinson (Pegasus), E. Stewart (1st reserve) (Armagh).

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