SWINDON WILDCATS: Nell can dream of Olympic place after GB call-up
AARON Nell admits he has dared to dream of representing Great Britain at the Winter Olympics after receiving a call-up for final qualifiers.
The Swindon Wildcats skipper was yesterday named as one of the 32 players in the preliminary squad that will undergo a training camp in Manchester on January 21-22.
Head coach Tony Hand will then pick 22 players that will travel to Latvia on February 6 to take on the hosts, France and Kazakhstan for a place at Sochi 2014.
With 32 goals in as many appearances this season, Nell is top of the EPL goalscoring charts and one of only five players from the second tier included in Hand’s line-up.
The 23-year-old was included in the preliminary squad for the first set of qualifiers in November but failed to make the final cut, with GB going on to top a group that included Romania, Japan, and South Korea.
However, the forward now has a chance of being part of the first GB team to appear at a Winter Games since 1948, and when asked if he had thought about playing in Russia next year, Nell said: “That would be really cool, it’s the last step of qualification so who knows?
“I’m sure Tony Hand wouldn’t have invited 32 players if he didn’t mean to make a couple of changes, but I’m not sure (what his chances of selection are), they have already picked one team and won a tournament to progress.
“I’ve just got to work hard and try to prove I’m good enough.”
GB are currently placed 21st in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) world rankings and face a tough task to top the group and qualify ahead of Latvia (11th), France (14th) and Kazakhstan (17th).
However, Nell is optimistic that Hand’s side have a chance of confounding the odds and making it to Sochi.
“I think GB have got a great team spirit and hopefully they can qualify through the group,” he said.
“It will be tough but you never know, it’s sport and you can’t take anything for granted.”