Exclusive: Captain Ama Agbeze's England career looks over as she is dropped for Netball World Cup

Ben Bloom
Ama Agbeze has been dropped by England head coach Tracey Neville - NurPhoto

England head coach Tracey Neville has made the bold call of dropping captain Ama Agbeze for this summer's Netball World Cup, a year after she guided the team to an historic first major international title at the Commonwealth Games.

Neville is due to announce her squad on May 23, but Telegraph Sport has learned Agbeze's name will not be in the 12-strong party.

Agbeze has become a figurehead for netball in England ever since the dramatic last-second victory over hosts Australia which claimed Commonwealth gold last year.

However, she has endured a difficult season with injuries restricting her playing time for new club London Pulse, who finished bottom of the Superleague table.

The omission is almost certain to spell the end of the 36-year-old's international career, which began in 2001, and denies her the chance to bow out on home soil with the World Cup to be held in Liverpool in July. 

England and head coach Tracey Neville and the team celebrate winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Despite her presence as an important part of Neville's squad off the court since becoming England captain in 2016, goal defence Agbeze has increasingly failed to hold down a starting spot for her country.

She featured for just seven minutes after coming off the bench in last year's Commonwealth Games final and did not start any of the three Quad Series matches last September when Layla Guscoth was preferred at goal defence to partner regular goal keeper Geva Mentor.

A knee injury then ruled Agbeze out of the most recent Quad Series earlier this year with Guscoth and Eboni Usoro-Brown sharing goal defence duties. Serena Guthrie captained England throughout that series - which featured another victory over world No1 side Australia - and she now looks the most likely candidate to be handed the role for this summer's World Cup. 

Serena Guthrie is the most likely candidate to take over as captain Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Agbeze's decision to return to England to captain Superleague newcomers London Pulse this season also proved unsuccessful. Persistent injuries restricted her playing time, but even when fully fit she struggled to force her way into the starting team, leading to the strange scenario of England's captain watching from the sidelines after failing to be selected by the worst Superleague side in the country.

Eager to prove her form prior to the World Cup squad announcement, she was restricted to coming off the bench in Pulse's final game of the season earlier this month, having sat as an unused substitute for their previous fixture.

The failure to prove herself this campaign has effectively forced Neville's hand, with the England head coach deciding against selecting Agbeze through any feeling of loyalty as she targets a first World Cup trophy to follow the Commonwealth gold.

Aside from Agbeze's notable omission, few significant changes from England's victorious Commonwealth Games squad are expected when Neville announces her World Cup selections, with the head coach likely to stick with a number of vastly experienced players at her disposal.

She has been forced into one late change with Beth Cobden, who played the entire Commonwealth Games final at wing defence, ruled out after rupturing her knee while playing for Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia last weekend.