Great Britain and England skipper Barry Middleton has warned his hometown club not to expect an easy ride in the Northern League.
Middleton - who played for Doncaster in last season’s Maxifuel Super Sixes Indoor Championships - will return home to Yorkshire this week to play for England in a tri-match series against the Netherlands at Wakefield (August 1-4).
The 29-year-old, who captained Team GB at London 2012, grew up playing for Doncaster and was as disappointed as anyone to see the Town Field men lose their long-standing National League status last season.
And Middleton has warned his old club not to take anything for granted at a lower level when the domestic season restarts in September.
“Hopefully they can bounce straight back but it’ll be difficult,” said Middleton, who has signed for ambitious Conference East club Holcombe.
“They need to do it next year really.
“If they don’t it could be hard to keep hold of players in the long run.
“The trouble is that they’ll be a big scalp in the league they’re going into. It’ll be a hard slog.”
Middleton was delighted to turn out for Doncaster over the winter, helping to preserve his former club’s Premier Division indoor status.
“I played for one of the two weekends that the tournament is held over and it was nice to do something for the club.
“The fact they stayed up in the indoor league is some consolation because it is a very good standard.
“Obviously the club will always be special to me and I hope they can get back into the National League as quickly as possible.”
Fresh from qualifying for the World Cup, England will hone their European Championship preparations against the Netherlands at Wakefield in the OW: Pensions Nations Cup.
“It’s great to be playing top-flight hockey in my home county of Yorkshire again,” added Middleton.
“The Netherlands are a high class side and it is sure to be a good contest.”
Tickets range from £7.50-£25. Visit www.englandhockey.co.uk for more details.