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Commonwealth Games: Holcombe pair Barry Middleton and George Pinner representing England

By Luke Cawdell

Holcombe hockey pair Barry Middleton and George Pinner will be aiming to better the bronze medal they won at the Glasgow Games in 2014.

Both players were involved as England beat New Zealand in a penalty shoot-out, putting behind them bronze medal defeats in the previous two Commonwealth Games.

That equalled the best previous performance for the men's team at the Commonwealths, when they won bronze in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Holcombe's Barry Middleton Picture: Steve Crispe

Middleton, with over 400 international caps to his name, knows they have hard work to do before thinking about going for gold.

The 34-year-old said: “That is the dream (to win gold) and that is what we are going to try and do but it’s little steps along the way and not looking too far at the end game.

“It’s about concentrating on the group stage and getting through that first; that is the big thing.

“We are excited for it. In terms of ranking points it doesn’t mean anything but in terms of the sport and the excitement and being on TV and getting the publicity, it is a massive one.

“With the other sports going on around us, it does feel like there is more of a buzz to it than other tournaments.”

Goalkeeper George Pinner celebrates victory in their bronze medal match against New Zealand at the XX Commonwealth Games, Glasgow Picture: Ady Kerry/England Hockey

Goalkeeper Pinner, 31, has been with Holcombe since 2014 and he’s looking forward to the prospect of battling for international honours once again.

“None of the group games are going to be easy,” he warned.

“But we’ll be looking to get out of the group, make it to the semi finals and see where we go from there.

“As an athlete you go to these tournaments dreaming of winning a medal and hopefully a gold one.

“Having tasted winning a medal, albeit a bronze, at the last one, it would be great to be on that podium again and hopefully a bit higher up.”

England begin their challenge against Malaysia on Friday at 12.30am

Read more on the Commonwealth Games in this week's Messenger newspaper series

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