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Vitality Netball Legends Series: Helen Housby returns to Jess Thirlby's England Roses squad

England's Vitality Roses will take on Jamaica in four Tests behind closed doors. All matches will be shown live on Sky Sports and streamed on YouTube, with the first Test due to take place on January 22

Helen Housby of England's Vitality Roses
Image: England's experienced shooter is returning to the squad for the first time since the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup

Helen Housby returns to England's Vitality Roses squad for the 2021 Vitality Legends Series, which will be live on Sky Sports and streamed on YouTube in January.

The shooter, who has been away from the international scene since the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, has returned to England after the conclusion of the Suncorp Super Netball season.

She joins Sophie Drakeford-Lewis as Jess Thirlby's main options at GA, with Manchester Thunder's Eleanor Cardwell also selected and able to move out into the position.

Another returnee from Australia is Housby's NSW Swifts' team-mate, Natalie Haythornthwaite. The 28-year-old WA/GA has been named as a co-captain by her head coach, with Serena Guthrie being selected as the other.

Elsewhere in mid-court, Beth Cobden will take her first steps under Thirlby's leadership and England's most-capped player, Jade Clarke, is poised to add to her 179 international appearances.

Natalie Haythornthwaite will be England's co-captain alongside Serena Guthrie
Image: Natalie Haythornthwaite will be England's co-captain alongside Serena Guthrie

In the Roses' defensive end, two of the standout players from England's last series in New Zealand - Razia Quashie and Fran Williams - have been selected and will be eager to test themselves against the Sunshine Girls.

"This series provides the opportunity to continue to test existing and new combinations as well as create connections between our rising stars and the more experienced players," head coach Thirlby said.

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"Some [of these experienced players] are back for the first time since the World Cup in Liverpool, which I know we have been eagerly awaiting.

"Getting to play New Zealand in November was a big opportunity for us and we're grateful to get another chance to play a top-ranking team, this time on home soil.

"A Vitality Roses versus Jamaica clash never fails to disappoint and has, in the past led to some of the most competitive matches in global netball.

"It is great to see the strength of the side that forms the touring group from Jamaica, which will demand from us the highest levels of performance needed to win on the international stage.

"It plays a significant part in our preparations for Birmingham and beyond and we can't wait to get back on court and to look ahead to 2021 and beyond."

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The four-Test series is scheduled to start on January 22. All of the matches will be played behind closed doors and take place in the space of six action-packed days.

With the current situation in England regarding COVID-19, both squads and support teams will undergo a quarantine period ahead of the series, before a vigorous testing process is in place throughout.

On court, the two teams will be duelling for the Jean Hornsby Cup, named in honour of England Netball's first black player.

All four matches will be live on Sky Sports and be available to watch via a stream on the Sky Sports YouTube channel, for individuals living in the UK and Ireland.

Vitality Roses Squad: Eleanor Cardwell, George Fisher, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Helen Housby, Laura Malcolm, Serena Guthrie (co-captain), Natalie Haythornthwaite (co-captain), Beth Cobden, Jade Clarke, Imogen Allison, Fran Williams, Razia Quashie, Vicki Oyesola, Layla Guscoth. Training Partner: Summer Artman.

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