Pitchford believes selection headaches could be key for table tennis chances

Pitchford believes selection headaches could be key for table tennis chances
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By Josh Graham at the NEC, Birmingham

Liam Pitchford suggested selection headaches could be the key to Team England’s chances of going deep in the men’s table tennis after beating Bangladesh 3-0 at the Commonwealth Games.

Chesterfield’s Pitchford, 29, brushed aside Mohutasin Ahmed Ridoy 11-3 11-8 11-3 to help England finish the group stage unbeaten after securing their quarter-final spot with wins over Guyana and Fiji yesterday.

Pitchford has set his sights on a ninth Games medal and with all four squad members in action over the last two days, believes the strength in depth is causing coach Gavin Evans problems but leaving the team well placed to podium ahead of Sunday’s quarter final.

He said: “Gav has a difficult decision to see who plays or not and that’s a good place to be in and one that we have not been in for quite a long time, so that’s always good.

“Whoever plays is going to go out there and give it 100 percent and if we win, we win and if we lose, we gave it our all.”

Pitchford, who debuted at Delhi 2010, admitted there will be sterner tests to come after three straightforward wins kicked off the campaign for favourites England.

After describing last year's delayed, post-lockdown Olympic Games as “the worst of my career”, Pitchford is looking to bounce back on the major Games stage in Birmingham.

He suffered a first-round defeat in the men’s singles competition in Tokyo and failed to qualify for the team event before subsequently speaking openly about his mental health struggles.

And having not been forced to get out of second gear so far at the NEC, Pitchford recognises there are sterner tests ahead on the table this week.

He added: “I’m feeling good ahead of the quarterfinals tomorrow. We did what we needed to do again.

“It has not been the hardest of groups, but we got the wins, and we know tomorrow is going to be a different challenge and we need to be ready from the go.

“From the first match we need to be focused and, in the game, but I think we are all in good shape and we will see what happens tomorrow.”

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