Fareham not prioritising indoor promotion

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Ben Barnes does not expect Fareham to get promoted at the Hockey 5s Championship at Whitgift School this weekend but admits it would be an added bonus if it did happen.

The National League conference west side achieved their target of qualifying for indoor national division two this season but are not pinning their hopes on playing division one hockey next winter.

The Henry Cort-based side booked their place in the competition after coming second in division two south.

They were runners-up on goal difference to Indian Gymkhana, who they will face again on Sunday.

West Herts also progressed, as well as Cheltenham, Barford Tigers and Conference north side Sheffield Hallam.

The top two teams will be promoted to national division one for the 2015-2016 season after this weekend’s group of games, while the remaining sides will remain in division two north or south.

Performance director Barnes said: ‘It isn’t our priority. We’re going to learn as much as we can from it.

‘If we don’t make it this year, then we’ll definitely go for it next year.

‘Having said that, we will certainly give it a go and if we can get promoted then absolutely fantastic.’

He added: ‘We’re not risking certain players, with an eye on them playing outdoors next weekend.

‘We’re not at full-strength so that changes things a bit.

‘We’re going to be much stronger on the Sunday but if we can get a result in our two games on Saturday, then there’s all to play for.

‘If there’s the opportunity to go up, then we will take it.’

Fareham are already thinking of next weekend, which sees the resumption of their league campaign outdoors.

With that in mind, Daniel Sampey’s calf injury will not be risked at Whitgift.

Jamie and Danny Rawlings will also be unavailable after being called up for a training camp with the senior Welsh indoor team.

Josh Godfrey will also be absent, while Nathan Palmer and Rob Wilson are both unavailable on Saturday but will play on Sunday.

George Harris, however, has recovered from his groin injury picked up in the last round and will share goalkeeping duties with Rory Kemp.

Jonathan Price comes back into the squad, while there is also a space for second-team player Tom Larcombe.

Fareham’s round-robin matches begin with Sheffield Hallam on Saturday (1pm) followed by Cheltenham (3pm).

The following day, they face Barford Tigers (10am) and Indian Gymkhana (2pm), before closing the tournament against West Herts (5pm).

Barnes believes it is tough to predict who will go through but earmarked Indian Gymkhana and West Herts as strong contenders.

‘Gymkhana really want to go up after finishing third last year but West Herts will also be strong,’ said Barnes.

‘It will be interesting to see who will come second. Over the years it’s been one team from the north and one from the south as both leagues are quite even.’