England v Uganda: Roses' World Cup preparations continue

Eboni Usoro-Brown and Serena guthrie
Eboni Usoro-Brown (left) celebrates winning gold with Serena Guthrie
Vitality International Netball Series: England v Uganda
Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool (27 Nov), Copper Box Arena (30 Nov & 2 Dec)
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

The England Roses are preparing to play their first international games on home soil since being crowned Commonwealth champions on the Gold Coast in April.

The Roses play Uganda in Liverpool and London in a three-match series, in a bid to end the year on a positive note.

England last faced the She Cranes in the Commonwealth Games group stage, winning 55-49.

Centre-courter Serena Guthrie is expecting Uganda to be "gunning" for England.

The series begins at the Liverpool Echo Arena at 19:00 GMT on Tuesday, 27 November, which will also be home to the Netball World Cup in July 2019.

The final two games will then take place at the Copper Box Arena in London on Friday, 30 November at 19:00 GMT and Sunday, 2 December at 14:15 GMT.

Katharine Merry and Sara Orchard will share commentary duties on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, with England's injured captain Ama Agbeze co-commentating for the London matches, while former Roses wing-attack Tamsin Greenway will share her expertise in Liverpool.

England will then break for Christmas before playing in a home Quad Series in January, as their preparations for the World Cup continue.

Guthrie, who will stand in as captain for the Roses in the absence of Agbeze, said: "Uganda are a great team.

"They are a skilful team, they have athleticism and flair and creativity so they'll be a real challenge for us."

And defender Eboni Usoro-Brown says the squad see the series as a "homecoming".

The Team Bath player, who was part of the gold medal-winning squad, said: "I'm really looking forward to it.

"It's been a while since we've played in front of our home crowd so I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone there - our red army - and actually getting three good results, hopefully, against the She Cranes."

Uganda's poster girl is shooter Peace Proscovia, and Usoro-Brown - England's most experienced defender with 90 caps - singles her out as the main threat to the Roses.

"Peace Proscovia - they've definitely got a target in the back at goal-shooter," the 30-year-old said.

"She's been a formidable shooter - not only in the Vitality Netball Superleague. She has obviously been recognised to go out to the Suncorp Super Netball for next year [Proscovia has been signed to play for Sunshine Lightning in 2019].

"She's very, very, accurate, very mobile in the back and they do look to her quite often when they're coming through the court in attack."

Tracey neville and Serena Guthrie
Tracey Neville and Serena Guthrie (right) cannot control their emotions as England snatch a last-gasp win over Australia

A mixed year since claiming dramatic gold

After winning Commonwealth gold, the Roses went on to finish second in the Quad Series, involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in September, losing to the Diamonds in the final.

It was something of a revenge win for the Australians, who were beaten in the Commonwealth final in the dying seconds by the Roses, despite being overwhelming favourites and playing in front of a sold-out home crowd.

However it was otherwise a mixed autumn for the Tracey Neville's side, who lost all three matches against Jamaica in the Caribbean.

They were also unable to defend their international Fast5 World Series crown, with stand-in coach Karen Atkinson only able to guide her team to fifth.

But head coach Neville refused to be alarmed by her squad's indifferent form, with the former Manchester Thunder coach and England shooter focused on giving game time to her less experienced players.

Speaking after the series loss to the Sunshine Girls, Neville, 41, said: "We've got an inexperienced squad in Jamaica and we wanted to test them against one of the best teams in the world. They got a lot of learning out of that."

While Guthrie, 28, who returns to the UK Superleague to play for Team Bath in 2019 from Sydney's GWS Giants, says losing matches is "disappointing" but the squad has been "working hard to rectify things that went wrong."

The Roses squad for the Uganda games is a mix of experience and new blood, with Usoro-Brown joined in defence by young player Razia Quashie, who will be aiming to earn her fourth cap after making her debut in Jamaica in October.

She said: "Raz came on in Jamaica and had an absolute stormer.

"She should take a lot of confidence from her performance in that series."

England squad to play Uganda: Helen Housby, Serena Guthrie, Layla Guscoth, Rachel Dunn, Sasha Corbin, Razia Quashie, George Fisher, Jade Clarke, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Gabriella Marshall, Jodie Gibson

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