IT would be a stretch for Chris Grassick to suggest that his sustained injury lay-off was a good thing but he does concede some positives came from being on the sidelines for almost a year.

In the summer of 2016, Scotland’s hockey captain, who was also part of the GB squad, snapped his anterior cruciate ligament and despite being only in his mid-20s, had thoughts of hanging up his hockey stick for good. But his time out reminded him of just how much he loved the sport.

“I had kind of planned on quitting hockey and going into the real world and something changed after I had the operation and I just decided that I wasn’t going to give up now - that I wanted to go for Tokyo Olympics and really crack on with hockey,” the 27-year-old from Edinburgh said.

“Mentally it was a really hard time and there were some moments where I was pretty unhappy. But everyone has ups and downs along their career - you read articles about other sportsmen and sportswomen and you realise it is maybe not the worst thing ever. So it put things in perspective and makes me appreciate everything more now because you never know what is around the corner.

“I think I’m probably in a fresher position now than some people who cracked on after Rio and didn’t really have a break. So it could have been a blessing in disguise.”

Grassick was one of 18 hockey players named last week for the men’s squad that will travel to Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, which begin in April and with Scotland drawn against hosts and gold-medal favourites Australia, as well as New Zealand, Canada and South Africa in the group stages, Grassick knows he and his team-mates could not have a tougher task. But with a successful 2017 behind them, and a good warm-weather camp in Spain last month, Grassick, who plays his club hockey for English side Surbiton, is optimistic that Scotland can make their presence felt.

“We’re playing Australia at half nine at night so that will be awesome,” said Grassick, who was part of the squad at Glasgow 2014.

“You never know what can happen. We’re going to go into the group with a few games that we’ll target against the teams that are closer to us [in the rankings] and then we’ll take it from there. Against Australia, we’re going to go into it with a view to beating them but we’ll see what happens. But I don’t actually think the top four is an unrealistic aim.”

Scotland are ranked 23rd in the world but things are made considerably harder for them because, as a team they receive almost no financial support. Grassick, as a member of the GB set-up, is one of the lucky few who have the luxury of being full-time athletes but the squad have even been forced to crowd-fund to finance their international trips.

Some positive results in Gold Coast may well prove to the powers-that-be that the men’s squad deserve increased backing but Grassick denies that the team are headed to Australia with any thoughts of making a point that they have been hard done by.

“We don’t have a point to prove to anyone other than ourselves,” he said. “We just want to get better and we’ll do everything we can to get better. So we crowd-funded, we do hockey camps and we make the most of the money we have. And everyone is very dedicated.

“We’re definitely on an upward curve as a team. Glasgow 2014 was pretty cool because we had that home support and while performing in front of your own fans can bring lots of pros with motivation and getting you through games, equally it can maybe put you under a bit more pressure. But playing away from home, in Australia, means we can just go out and enjoy it. We’ve got nothing to lose.”