Emergency surgery kiwi hockeyer Blair Hilton

IPOH, Malaysia   ●    New Zealand hockey player Blair Hilton has been ruled out of the Azlan Shah Tournament in Malaysia after having emergency surgery for appendicitis overnight.

The 22-year-old Wellingtonian, who has been capped 71 times for the Black Sticks, is now recovering in a private hospital.

The Black Sticks men have been in the Malaysian city of Ipoh for a week and play their first game against India tonight (10.05pm NZT).

Northland’s Shay Neal has been called in to replace Hilton and will leave Auckland this afternoon. Neal will miss tonight’s opening game but will be with the team for the rest of the tournament.

It’s an important one for many reasons, not least of all with the Olympics looming. Coach Shane McLeod is hoping to settle on his 16-man Olympic squad after the Azlan Shah Tournament and he had included some fringe players to see what they could do.

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