GB last played in the autum

Fiona Crackles’ whirlwind rise to the GB women’s squad could see her rewarded with an Olympic ticket after the 20-year-old was called up full-time to the senior national programme.

Crackles, the Durham University student, made her debut in October where she picked up a player of the match award on the Euro trip to Holland and Belgium and began training this week as the GB squad returned to Bisham.

“I guess it’s been very slow to sink in,” she said. “I still just see myself as someone who plays hockey because they enjoy it. I haven’t really got my head round being a professional athlete so hopefully that will sink in soon.”

Before the FIH Pro League trip in the autumn, coach Mark Hager told THP that Crackles was a “tough defender” with good passing ability.

Prior to her senior exposure, she spent time in Queensland where made the state’s highly competitive under-21 team, which Hager said has only helped her hockey knowledge.

Now, the Australian is keen to see the former England junior’s progression.

Hager said: “She looked really comfortable on her debut against the Dutch and improved in each game. We were impressed with her ability to defend, turn defence into attack, her reading of what’s going on and her overall athleticism.

“Fiona has a fantastic willingness to learn and a strong competitive nature and we’re excited to see how she develops her game even further technically and tactically.”

With Olympic squad selection looming, Crackles added: “I’ve joined the programme so late so I feel like there’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”