Strong performances at the Junior World Cup and the December test series against Malaysia have earned Midlands defender Frances Davies selection to the Black Sticks women's hockey squad.

Head coach Mark Hager has named an initial squad of 21 players, with five more to be added following next month's test series in Argentina.

The squad has a core of experienced and talented athletes, with nine having played over 100 tests, while versatile defender Stacey Michelsen is the most capped (216).

Goalkeeper Grace O'Hanlon is a new face, with the 24-year-old previously living and playing in Australia.

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Several experienced players including Anita McLaren, Gemma Flynn, Charlotte Harrison, Petrea Webster and Sophie Cocks have opted to take a break from international hockey and were not available for selection.

Hager said it was an exciting phase for the squad as they hunt for more success this year with the focus shifting towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"After an Olympic campaign, you always see changes for different reasons, and I'm excited about the group we have," he said.

"It's pleasing to see some great young athletes coming through and pushing for places, and that's why players like Frances Davies and Erin Goad have been rewarded.

"We have a lot to look forward to this year with the end goal making sure we give our absolute best performance at the FIH Women's World League final here at home in November."

The men's national squad will be named tomorrow.