Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Lees, Mes back in Silver Ferns squad

Midcourter Camilla Lees. Photo / Getty Images
Midcourter Camilla Lees. Photo / Getty Images

The Silver Ferns will welcome back two players from injury for January's tour to the England, in what will be their last test outings before the Commonwealth Games.

Pulse midcourter Camilla Lees has been included in the 12-strong test side after overcoming a foot injury, while shooter Bailey Mes has made such strong progress with her rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction that she has been included as one of the four training partners to travel with the team.

Mes ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in the Mystics final game of the season in June and was thought to be out of contention for the tour, but she has been incredibly disciplined with her rehab and is expected to be fit enough to tour. While she won't be a considered an option to play, it is believed Silver Ferns management wanted to include Mes in the tour group to give her an opportunity to work under assistant coach and shooting specialist Vicki Wilson.

Under-21 stars Malia Paseka and Phoenix Karaka will also tour with the Silver Ferns as training partners along with squad member Courtney Tairi, who was bumped out of the test team by the return of Lees.

Steel midcourter Shannon Francois retains her place in the 12 after impressing in the Constellation Cup series following her later call-up to the side.

The 16-day tour, which will include tests against England and Jamaica, as well as two exhibition games against Scotland in Glasgow, will be the last time the Silver Ferns play before July's Commonwealth Games. Taumaunu said the tour is an important one for the travelling group.

"We've had the opportunity to look back over the season and there are certainly some areas we need to improve and address," she said.

"The team of 12 will have to work hard to maintain their spots and taking four training partners will enable us to continue to grow depth with some very important events ahead of us."

"This long haul tour is going to be vital to our preparations going forward as it will be the last time we have together before the Commonwealth Games."

Silver Ferns team for UK tour: Casey Kopua (captain), Leana de Bruin, Shannon Francois, Katrina Grant, Joline Henry, Laura Langman, Cathrine Latu, Camilla Lees, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Maria Tutaia, Irene van Dyk.

Training partners: Courtney Tairi, Bailey Mes (Silver Ferns squad), Phoenix Karaka, Malia Paseka (national accelerant squad).

- NZ Herald

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