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Broken ankle rules Robson out of World League series

By Graham Hamilton

Irish international midfielder Michael Robson is set to miss the World League 2 series at Stormont in March after breaking his ankle in training.

It's a big blow to the player, his club Lisnagarvey who will now miss his input as they bid to retain their EY Irish Hockey League title, and to the international team as they try to emulate the Irish women who won their world series to progress to the World Cup's final qualifier.

Robson only joined Garvey a matter of weeks ago from Annadale and had quickly slotted into their squad.

He looked a certainty for Craig Fulton's squad for the World League series at Stormont from March 11-19 and, unless he can recover quickly, it means the coach will lose another established player, as some who took part in the Rio Olympics have already made themselves unavailable due to pressure of work.

Robson was to be named in the squad which heads off tomorrow to Spain for warm weather training, and another from the squad to miss out is Banbridge's Owen Magee who broke a knuckle during Saturday's Irish Senior Cup win over Cork C of I.

"I went over on the ankle during training," explains Michael. "There is still swelling, and a new plaster cast is on, but I'm hoping for a quick recovery.

"The March tournament looks unlikely but I won't be ruling it out just yet - I'll see how things go in the next few weeks."

The Irish squad head off to Spain tomorrow to prepare ahead of the World League series and they got a boost when they learned that both they and their female counterparts remain in the reckoning for world hockey's new home and away global league which is due to begin in 2019.

Only suitable teams will get the green light for the series, but the Irish have cleared the first hurdle which means they have a high world ranking, can provide suitable venues, can host eight matches at home and play eight away, and can ensure leading players are available.

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain were all successful with applications for both their men's and women's teams while China, Italy and USA women's teams and Malaysia and Pakistan men's teams also got the green light.

The next stage will see the Irish having to show financial sustainability, legal compliance, marketing strategies, proposed legacy impact and broadcasting exposure and media coverage, among other things.

With the Irish training camp in operation, there's no IHL programme this week, but the big game in the Ulster Premier League between top two Kilkeel and Cookstown has been brought forward to Friday evening at the Mourne venue, which gives the Tyrone men some respite ahead of their Irish Indoor championship bid on Sunday at Queen's.

Annadale's game against Raphoe has been postponed which leaves just two games on Friday and two on Saturday.

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