New Delhi: Hockey India on Friday announced an 18-member women's team for the upcoming tour to England, which is scheduled to begin on September 27.
The side will be led by Rani, and Savita will be the vice-captain. The team will play five matches against Great Britain.
"The balance and mixture of players in our team remain the same from previous tournaments as go into an important phase in our objective of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
It is good to have Namita Toppo back in the squad for the first time since Asian Games 2018, and she has given us confidence in training to select her for the upcoming tour," coach Sjoerd Marijne said.
"We still have ten days of training before we leave for the matches in England, and I am sure these matches will serve as good preparation for our vital FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Odisha against the USA in November 2019," he added.
Goalkeepers Savita and Rajani Etimarpu have retained their places in the side from the team which won the Olympic Test Event in Japan. Defenders Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar and Salima Tete have also been named in the squad.
The midfield sees the return of experienced Namita Toppo, who makes a comeback into the side after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury. Midfield will also consist of Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Neha Goyal, and Lilima Minz.
While the forward-line features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur and youngster Sharmila Devi who made her international debut during the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo.
The coach said that playing against Britain will help the side in their preparation for the match against USA in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Odisha.
"I think both the Great Britain team and the USA play with a similar approach to their game, so it is beneficial for us to be playing against a strong opponent in their own backyard.
We now focus on preparing well for the matches in England, but our main objective will remain to finalize some points we can improve from the Olympic Test Event as we go into the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Odisha," he said.
The 18-member team is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Savita (vc), Rajani Etimarpu Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete Midfielders: Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Namita Toppo Forwards: Rani (c), Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Sharmila Devi.