DCSIMG

Barrowford Netballer Natalie called up to England squad

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BARROWFORD’S Natalie Haythornthwaite received the perfect belated birthday present on Monday when she was promoted to the senior England netball squad for the three-match International Series against Australia in January.

BARROWFORD’S Natalie Haythornthwaite received the perfect belated birthday present on Monday when she was promoted to the senior England netball squad for the three-match International Series against Australia in January.

Natalie, who turned 20 the day before, earned her first call-up to the full squad of 15, after captaining the Great Britain squad to gold at the World University Games in Cape Town in the summer, and leading the England Under 21 squad to a 2-1 Test series victory over South Africa.

The former Fisher-More pupil then helped England finish third in the Constellation Cup Under 21 International Netball Series in Ballarat, Victoria behind hosts Australia and New Zealand.

The Yorkshire Jets wing attack will now link up with the squad, captained by Team Bath’s Pamela Cookey, for three matches in Bath on January 20th, Wembley Arena on the 23rd, and a possible decider at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena on the 26th.

And the news is still sinking in: “I’m so happy, I found out on Monday when I got a phone call saying ‘well done!’, and I said ‘what?’

“I was told to look at my e-mails, and I had a message telling me I’d been selected!

“I couldn’t believe it, but I had to calm down and get ready to go for training that morning.

“I’m part-shocked, but so excited to be given the opportunity.”

Natalie, originally from Salterforth, has just made a return from an Achilles injury, and has been preparing with her England teammates for the World Under 21 Youth Championships, at the Commonwealth Arena in Glasgow in August.

And she feels the call-up is reward for her hard work: “I’ve just got back from my injury and all the pre-hab work was very hard, but thankfully that has paid off.

“I’m the youngest player in the squad and I can’t wait - to be in the England squad against the best team in the world is fantastic.

“And to play at Wembley and the NIA will be amazing as well.

“My family are so proud, and they will definitely be coming to watch.”

The team is a mixture of promising youngsters such as Natalie, and experienced campaigners, as England look to upset the side officially recognised as the best in the world.

England head coach Anna Mayes said: “We have a nice blend of young talent and experienced players.

“It’s really exciting to have Natalie after she showed some good performances at the World University Games.

“We are incredibly excited about challenging the world number one side over three matches on home soil.”

Mayes added that her side will take motivation from other England victories over the Aussies: “We look at the England Women’s Cricket team and take a lot of inspiration from them and their win at the 2009 World Cup in Sydney.

“We showed progress against them in the Quad Series in October and did well for two quarters, now we need to improve that to all four.”

Tickets are sold out for the series opener in Bath but seats are still available in Birmingham and London.

The England squad is: Pamela Cookey (captain), Sara Bayman (vice-captain), Ama Agbeze, Sophia Candappa, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Kadeen Corbin, Sasha Corbin, Rachel Dunn, Stacey Francis, Serena Guthrie, Joanne Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Lindsay Keable, Laura Malcolm, Rachel Shaw.

 

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