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Former ally may lie in wait for Bankier

Imogen Bankier sets out today on a European Championship campaign that is important in its own right but promises to prove pivotal in her bid for Commonwealth Games success later this year.

Having picked up a bronze medal with Chris Adock at this competition two years ago, the likelihood is that they will confront one another this time around in their bid to improve on that in Russia this week.

Bankier and mixed doubles partner Robert Blair - who won a bronze in the men's doubles at the European Championships eight years ago - go into the competition as fourth seeds, in the same half of the draw as Adcock and his wife Gabby.

Should they meet as they are scheduled to in this weekend's semi-finals it is a match that could have implications for Glasgow.

While they are second seeds behind Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen this week, the English pair, currently fifth in the world rankings, look certain to go into the Games as top seeds.

The Scots, though, who are 10 places lower in those world rankings, have beaten them on the two occasions they have met one another; the first time four years ago, but the second time more significantly at this year's German Open where they went on to claim the title.

Another win for the Scots, who have already picked up four titles this year, would offer them a major psychological advantage, but first they have to negotiate their way to the semi-finals, starting with today's dangerous looking opener against Andrej Ashmarin and Ekanerina Bolotova from the host nation.

Bankier, meanwhile, is also expected to challenge for a medal in the women's doubles with Bulgarian partner Petya Nedelcheva in what will be their last tournament together, for the time being at least.

After this event she will concentrate on developing her partnership with Kirsty Gilmour, Britain's top singles player, which has been formed specifically to try to maximise Scotland's medal chances in Glasgow.

Gilmour's rise this year to a singles ranking of 17th in the world, the highest achieved by a Scot, has helped to justify why the pair are seen as having such potential in tandem. However, as things stand, Bankier and the more experienced Nedelcheva represent a more established combination.

Gilmour meanwhile heads into the singles this week as favourite to reach the final, seeded second behind Spain's Carolina Marin and after a first round bye she will meet Slovenia's Maja Tvrdy tomorrow.

Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh open their men's doubles bid today against French pair Lucas Corvee Brice Leverdez.

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