David Harte could miss next month’s European Championships as the two-time world goalkeeper of the year faces a race against time to overcome a muscle inflammation.
The Kinsale man was not named in the squad released by Hockey Ireland for the continental competition with Jamie Carr and Mark Ingram named in the goalkeeping spots.
But there is still a chance he could make it into the line-up for the event should the injury respond well to rest in the coming weeks ahead of the tournament which begins in Antwerp on August 16th.
One big boost is the availability of Eugene Magee. The Banbridge man had originally been ruled out of contention due to work commitments but has since been freed up to take part, giving Cox access to Ireland’s most capped male player at the head of his forward line.
It is, otherwise, a much-changed panel from the one that lined out at the FIH Series Finals in June. Luke Madeley is definitely out with a broken bone in his foot while Matthew Nelson and Matthew Bell are named on the reserve list.
Olympian Kirk Shimmins comes into the panel, brining an extra level of speed and dynamism to the midfield exchanges while Stu Loughrey and Jeremy Duncan have earned recalls.
Former Australia international Tim Cross, meanwhile, did enough in his first two caps for Ireland last weekend against Scotland to get the nod.
Speaking about squad selection, head coach Alexander Cox, said: “There are some different names in the squad in comparison to our FIH Series Finals earlier this summer.
“I’m content that this squad is, at this moment, our best squad and I expect we will do well in the coming weeks; however, there are still some decisions to be made around our goalkeepers for Europeans.
“The upcoming Four Nations tournament will be a good opportunity to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for European Championships.”
The backline looks a settled one with Olympians Conor Harte, Jonny Bell, John Jackson and Paul Gleghorne retained with the experienced Lee Cole and Loughrey flanking them.
Further up field, it looks like a side with more attacking options with Stephen Cole sitting in the holding role. Shane O’Donoghue was used to good effect further up the field in the series win over Scotland, working in a “quarterback” role to set free the likes of Cross, Duncan, Magee, Sean Murray, Michael Robson and Ben Walker.
The Green Machine travel to Terrassa this week for their latest preparation phase at a Four Nations tournament. They meet England on Thursday before facing Malaysia on Friday and hosts Spain on Sunday.
Ireland squad for European Championships (August 16 to 25, Antwerp): Jamie Carr (KHC Leuven), Mark Ingram (HC Rotterdam), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Jonathan Bell (Lisnagarvey), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), Lee Cole (Royal Oree), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Stuart Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Tim Cross (Tilburg), Shane O’Donoghue (KHC Dragons), Stephen Cole (Royal Oree), Daragh Walsh (KHC Leuven), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Sean Murray (HC Rotterdam), Michael Robson (Crefelder HTC), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Eugene Magee (Banbridge)
Four Nations tournament (Club Egara, Spain; August 1-4)
Thursday, August 1: Ireland v England, 5pm
Friday, August 2: Ireland v Malaysia, 5pm
Sunday, August 4: Ireland v Spain, 11am