THE idea that missing the long trip to Australia and New Zealand will at least give Amy Costello the chance to rest is met with a soft chuckle.

“Well, I suppose I’ve been able to take a step back, reflect a bit on my situation and focus on what I’ve got coming up,” says the Edinburgh-born hockey player. “But going through rehab isn’t really that much of a rest! I’m still at the gym four times a week, swimming, conditioning and doing everything else. So it’s still been pretty full-on.”

Costello would much rather have been Down Under with her GB team-mates this week in the latest instalment of their Pro League commitments but a bone stress in the middle of her foot has forced her into an unscheduled lay-off.

The hope is it will only keep her out for around six weeks, putting her back into contention for the next Pro League trip to the Netherlands in April. But, in an Olympic year, any kind of lay-off is naturally unsettling. The training squad of around 28 full-time players based at Bisham Abbey will be cut to a streamlined 16 for the trip to Tokyo, adding an additional competitive edge to training, matches and everything else over the next five months.

Being away from coach Mark Hager’s watchful eye for the next fortnight doesn’t help Costello’s case but the 22 year-old is confident this is only a temporary setback.

“I’m disappointed to be missing the trip,” she says. “But I just have to crack on with my rehab back here. And hopefully by the time the rest of the squad gets home I’ll be back out on the pitch.

“I’m hoping to be out for no longer than six weeks. It’s not really long but it’s not great timing with the trip and everything. But if there’s ever a good time to get injured in an Olympic year it would be now.”

Making the squad has been in Costello’s thoughts since she turned full-time in 2018. There is an additional aura around this women’s team given many of them won gold in Rio in 2016 and those new to the group want to play their part in retaining the title.

“I think the Olympics has probably been at the back of my mind for a while now,” admits Costello. “We genuinely believe we can go there and retain the title and become Olympic champions again.

“Reaching the Olympics has been a lifelong ambition and it would be an absolute dream but once there you want to compete as best as you can.”

Amid the usual camaraderie in the group, Costello admits there could be some additional tension the closer it gets to the Olympic squad announcement, probably in late June.

“There will be a lot of competition for place. That means everyone is training at their best as they want to be selected but also because they want to help create the best team to go out there and compete. Only 16 will be picked but everyone will have contributed to making sure the squad goes to Japan in the strongest possible condition.

“I’d imagine the Olympic squad will be named around June so that hopefully gives me plenty of opportunity to get back fit and part of the group.”

Paisley’s Emily Maguire was part of the GB team that won bronze in 2012 and became an instant role model for every young Scottish girl wielding a stick. With Scottish Hockey having recently launched its Playground to Podium programme to get more kids into the game, Costello could soon be the next poster girl.

She added: “I’m still young so it’s hard to picture myself as role model! But whenever I’m back home I try to get along to the sessions – anything to get more kids into hockey.”