There are many factors motivating the Scottish Thistles squad over the next week as they embark on their campaign to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, but revenge is near the top of that list.

The Scots’ toughest challenger at the World Cup Qualifying tournament, which begins on Wednesday in Glasgow, will almost certainly be Wales who, in an intensely fought battle, defeated the Thistles at the Commonwealth Games this summer, condemning the Scots to a ninth-place finish in Birmingham.

However, with that defeat still fresh in the players’ memories, Scotland’s captain Claire Maxwell is confident her squad will use that disappointment to drive them on to victory this week.

“It was a really close game in Birmingham. We came back hard in the last quarter but we weren’t able to quite get over the line so this time, we’re looking to right the wrongs of that game and get a better result,” the 34-year-old says.

“In a funny way, I think that result in Birmingham helps us because it makes us even more pumped up and we’re really raring to go against them.”

The six-team qualification tournament will take place over five days at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena – Wales are the Thistles’ final opponents on Sunday – and with the top two teams earning qualification for the World Cup in South Africa next year, Maxwell is desperate to ensure her side do not give up this chance to join the world’s best next summer.

Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man will battle the Scots, who are ranked 10th in the world and Wales, who are ranked eighth, for qualification and Maxwell is under no illusions as to the pressure such a testing schedule puts on her players.

“Gaining qualification for the World Cup is really, really important for us,” she says. “This is my fourth time at the qualification tournament and to miss out is gut-wrenching so it’s something we’re absolutely looking to avoid.

“In some ways, you want this competition to be over because there’s so much pressure and it has such an impact on our next cycle.

“Having six countries competing adds an extra element too – we’ll have five games in five days which is intense.

“The lower ranked countries have come on leaps and bounds recently so although the rankings say it should be Wales and ourselves who qualify, we know that doesn’t tell the full story and we’ll need to take it day by day and make sure we’re performing well in each and every match.”

With 112 caps for her country and having been on the international scene for over a decade, Maxwell, who plays her club netball for Strathclyde Sirens, is one of the most experienced members of the team, which she will put to good use as she leads a squad packed with youth.

Six players have never played in a world cup qualifier with Hannah Grant, who plays GD/GK, in line to gain her first international cap.

Despite the relative lack of experience though, Maxwell is optimistic that her charges will rise to the occasion.

“This squad is a fairly young one but it’s a really exciting one. It is quite a blend of youth and experience but what makes it so exciting is the potential of this squad,” she says.

“As captain, a key part of my role is to ensure the players go in confident – to make sure that in this kind of environment, they can perform and perform exceptionally well.

“I try to relieve the pressure I know they put on themselves and remind them they’ve done all the hard work so now is the time to enjoy it.

“In the few months since the Commonwealth Games finished, we’ve been focusing on improving the things we felt we needed to work on – getting hand to ball more often and doing what we can to increase our skill level but at the same time, a really important thing we need is exposure to these top teams.”

Maxwell may be an old hand as an internationalist but she is still getting the hang of combining being an elite athlete with motherhood. Her daughter

Lucy is now 17 months old and so with the tournament taking place on Maxwell’s doorstep, Lucy will be at most of the games as chief cheerleader which will be an added incentive for Maxwell to perform to her best.

“I’m loving being a mum and being out on court too and that’s down to my support team in so many ways – they allow me to still be that selfish athlete a little bit so I can go to training and commit to these big competitions and continue to pursue my dreams,” she says.

“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to be a mum and also an athlete and it’ll be great having Lucy at most of the games.

“At the start, the hardest part was the lack of sleep but now, it’s getting that balance of quality time with my family but also doing what I need to do to be an elite athlete. It’s a difficult balancing act wearing all the different hats.”