England coach blasts "crazy" scheduling
LONDON, Apr 25 (Reuters) England badminton head coach Ian Wright has hit out at ''crazy'' international scheduling after five of his squad for the Thomas and Uber Cup team championships which start in Japan on Friday were ruled out because of injury.
Commonwealth Games gold medallists Gail Emms and Tracey Hallam were forced to pull out of the seven-strong women's squad for the Uber Cup along with Donna Kellogg, who won the women's doubles gold medal with Emms at the European championships earlier this month.
Anthony Clark, who won a mixed doubles bronze with Kellogg and a men's doubles bronze with Robert Blair at the Europeans, is also out of the eight-strong men's Thomas Cup squad along with No 1 singles player Aamir Ghaffar.
Emms has an injury to her left ankle, Kellogg has a back problem and Clark, Hallam and Ghaffar all have shoulder injuries.
Head coach Wright said in a media release: ''The shoulder and elbow injuries are a legacy of the Commonwealth Games. They are all a series of chronic niggles which could cause long-term damage if the players aren't allowed to recover.
''It's all down to the crazy schedule with the players having to tackle three major championships in such a short time.
''But the senior players are really disappointed at having to miss the Thomas and Uber Cup finals. It is the first time for a while that we have both teams through to the finals and the players respect the tradition and importance of the event.
''But we can't keep relying on injured players. We will not be bringing other players into the squad so it means that youngsters like Rajiv Ouseph and Jenny Wallwork will have the chance to fill the gap.'' England left for Japan on Monday. In the initial group stages of the Thomas Cup the men are up against Malaysia and the U S The women play the Netherlands and Hong Kong.
China, pressed by South Korea, are expected to dominate the tournament which ends on May 7.
REUTERS DH KN1348