Imogen Allison has been called up to the Team England squad by Head Coach Jess Thirlby ahead of the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, after Beth Cobden was sadly ruled out due to injury.
Leading her domestic side Team Bath to a strong top four finish in the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague, Imogen Allison had not only been included on the full-time Roses programme for 2022-23, but had previously also been named as a Reserve by Jess Thirlby ahead of the Games and, as such, had been training with the squad at the training camps in South Africa and Nottingham. She will now step up into the final 12.
Thirlby commented on the latest addition to her squad:
“We had a number of athletes that didn’t quite make the 12 who were more than capable and good enough to push themselves into the team, such is the quality across the squad currently. Circumstances have obviously led to an opportunity for Imo, and she joins with the four other Commonwealth Games debutants which is super exciting for her. She has been one of our young, up and coming stars over the last couple of years and this is a fantastic reward for the effort and progress she’s made over the past few seasons.”
Allison is now gearing up for the challenge ahead, and her first ever Commonwealth Games. “I don’t think words could describe how excited I am,” she added.
“We were in the team room and Jess just asked whether I’d like to go to a Commonwealth Games and I was like, ‘I’d absolutely love to!’ I’m still speechless about it to be honest.
“I can’t wait to get going and take part in my first major competition. I’m just hoping to take everything in, especially all the support from the home crowd.”
Head Coach Jess Thirlby continued: “For Imo, this will be a seamless transition having been involved with the Roses in recent international windows. She has proven her ability to make a great impact in games, is a natural ball winner and a brilliant carrier of ball. She’s got a mature head on her shoulders, and I know she’ll grab the opportunity with both hands.”
On the withdrawal of Beth Cobden, Thirlby said:
“It’s really sad to have lost Beth. She’s given it everything to be back in time but unfortunately, time has worked against us in terms of her rehab from her injury. For any team to lose anyone of that stature is disappointing and all the girls were right around her when they learnt the news.
“Beth has been outstanding in the way she has managed herself over the past few weeks and is a much-loved character in our team. She has always put the team first and we will be right behind her as she makes her return on court and we hope to see her out there in our next international window as we head into Cape Town.”
One of the historic group of 12 who won gold on the Gold Coast in 2018, Beth Cobden was disappointed not to have the opportunity to defend the title:
“I’m absolutely gutted to be missing a home Games. I’ve worked so hard to get there but unfortunately sport can be cruel and my calf just wasn’t ready. I’m very grateful to England Netball for everything they’ve done for me, and to the amazing support from my teammates, family and friends who are keeping me smiling. I’ll be cheering on the girls all the way and I have no doubt they’ll make us proud.”
Team England kickstart their Commonwealth defence campaign on Friday 29 July when they take on Trinidad and Tobago in the opening match at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham.