Ama Agbeze believes England gold at Netball World Cup could 'push the sport forward'
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Last Updated: 27/06/19 2:30pm
England's Vitality Roses could "push the sport forward" with a first gold medal at next month's home Netball World Cup, according to former captain Ama Agbeze MBE.
The Roses come into the competition off the back of a gold medal-winning Commonwealth Games campaign last year and a highest-ever ranking of second.
England are in Group D for the Preliminaries Stage One and open their tournament against Uganda on July 12 before meeting Scotland and Samoa.
"There's a lot of responsibility on the girls because after our Commonwealth Games win netball has taken off in the UK so I think it would be great if netball could win and get a gold medal to push the sports forward," Agbeze said on Sky Sports News.
"I think any motivation that you can use to win that is going to be great so Tracey's leaving is just another motivation the girls will try and use."
Agbeze was left out of Neville's 12-player squad for the tournament and instead, will join two-time World Cup winner Sharni Layton to complete Sky Sports Netball's star-studded line-up.
With a wealth of experience between them, Agbeze spoke about the prospect of working alongside her Australian rival and fellow defender, Layton.
"I had a rivalry with her on court," Agbeze said. "We were both good defenders so I never played against her but there's definitely going to be competition between us because I don't like the Aussies and she probably doesn't like England!"
With the news of her omission from Neville's playing squad still fresh, Agbeze knows watching the 10-day tournament will be a challenge.
"It's definitely still close to my heart and I'm still disappointed. I think it's going to be even harder to be part of the Sky Sports comms team, watching the games and sitting on the sidelines thinking 'I want to be on court and I could have been on court,'" reflected the 36-year-old.
Agbeze underwent surgery on her knee back in November last year and hoped to be selected for the Roses by the end of the Superleague season.
I’ve played with those girls for quite a long time, and they’re my team mates and I wouldn’t want someone to get injured for me to get in. That’s not the way I would want to go to the World Cup.
"I basically had the Superleague season to try and recover and get back on court," the London Pulse captain said.
"And I did manage to back on court, and was rehabbing and was moving forwards and the season was going to finish and I thought I was going to have enough time to get fit.
"I'm actually fit now and fully fit, so it's quite frustrating that I've not been selected because I do feel like I would have been ready to go."
With the start of the tournament fast approaching, the Roses are now in camp and focused on their tournament-opener on July 12 against the Ugandan She Cranes.
The former captain still has a role to play in England's preparations. As part of the long-squad Agbeze is one of the training partners tasked with putting the selected 12-squad through their paces to ensure they are ready for the challenges ahead.
Watch every match of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup live on Sky Sports. Coverage starts on Friday, July 12 plus keep up to date with all of the latest competition news, results and enjoy in-depth features at SkySports.com/netball