When Lee Morton departed the GB hockey programme in 2019, it was a shock to the system.

First, he went from being immersed in a high-performance environment to being little more than a member of the public who played hockey in his spare time.

Second, and perhaps even more crushing, he was forced to come to terms with the fact that, in all like-lihood, he would never now fulfil his goals in the sport.

What followed was three years of making a living as a full-time coach, while training in his spare time. It was not easy.

But his perseverance paid off and over the past 12 months, Morton has not only scaled the heights of once again becoming a GB internationalist, but he has surpassed his previous achievements.

Having been invited to rejoin the GB programme just over a year ago, Morton has established himself as an integral member of the squad, with his change in fortunes highlighted by the fact that barely a day goes by without him thinking about making it to the Olympic Games.

“How I felt about not being on the GB programme anymore really depended on what day you asked me,” the 27-year-old says of leaving the programme in 2019. “Some days, I felt really positive about having got a few GB caps at all, which is not something many guys can say.

“Then there were other days where I felt like I really, really wanted back on the programme to see how much better I could get.

“It was a major shock to my system, though.

“When I left GB, I started coaching full time and just played a bit of club hockey. It was pretty brutal and motivation-wise, it was very tough and I definitely went through a lull.

“So now, it feels unreal to be back on GB and I’m in such a privileged position to play hockey as my job.”

Morton is certainly making his presence in the GB set-up felt. The Glaswegian was part of the British team which, just before Christmas, beat the world’s top side, the Netherlands, not once but twice, on their way to winning the first Pro League mini tournament of the season.

And as he prepares for the second Pro League outing, which begins in just under a fortnight and will see GB take on Australia and hosts, New Zealand in Christchurch, confidence is high.

“I’m feeling in good shape,” says the midfielder, who plays for the club side, Old Georgians, in Surrey. “And the squad is confident too. It was massive to beat the Netherlands. I really didn’t expect to go into that first game and come away 3-0 winners. It’s really lifted our expectations about what we can do.

“It was massive for me personally too. It was my first GB appearance in quite a few years so in terms of getting back up to speed, it was a tough standard but to get those wins, it made me feel like I’d slotted right back in.”

The Pro League is important for every member of the GB squad as, with only just over a year until the Paris Olympics, time is running out to claim a spot in the Olympic team.

But for Morton in particular, these Pro League tournaments are imperative.

As the lone Scot in a GB squad made up almost exclusively of Englishmen – of the 32 outfield players, 29 are English – these matches are Morton’s only chance to prove he is worthy of making the cut for Paris whereas the English players, who also appear in the World Cup and European Championships – which Scotland’s men have not qualified for – have more opportunities to show what they can do on the international stage.

“At our team meetings, we have a countdown clock so we’re constantly reminded of just how close Paris is.

“And the Pro League is the only opportunity I have to show what I can do whereas the England guys have more chances.

“That means the Pro League is massive for me and so every game I get selected for, I need to give my absolute all so that I can look back, whatever happens, and know I couldn’t have done any more.”

No Scottish male hockey player has made the Olympics since 2004, with controversy in 2021 with the omission of Alan Forsyth, who had been widely expected to be included in GB’s squad for the Tokyo Olympics.

His omission prompted accusations of an anti-Scottish bias within the set-up but Morton has no such concerns.

“It was a tough situation with Alan and it is hard being the only Scot in the squad,” he says. “I am conscious of that and I am at a disadvantage just purely in terms of the number of opportunities I get.

“If someone in my position plays really well when they’re playing for England, that makes it even harder for me to get back in so from that perspective, it does make it tougher for me. But that’s just the way it is and I don’t worry about it.

“I don’t think in this regime, there’s bias against me for being Scottish and I absolutely feel like whoever’s playing the best will be in the squad for Paris, regardless of nationality.

“There are struggles within the programme of not being English but I fully believe that I wouldn’t get left out because I’m a Scot.”