Lucy Wood will have plenty of support from Sussex following her surprise selection for the Commonwealth Games.
When England’s squad was announced for Glasgow, there were not many who expected the uncapped Wood to be included.
And that included her family in Horsham.
The 20-year-old from Sussex had been impressing in England’s development squad but she still felt the tournament had come too soon for her.
However, after their disappointing showing in the World Cup in the Netherlands, England decided to take a punt on a player who has proved she can score goals and they may not be disappointed.
Wood came through the ranks of Sussex hockey, helping Millais School win the national under-16s indoors schools’ title in 2010 and representing England in the Four Nations tournament in the Netherlands the same year.
After moving on to the College of Richard Collyer, she won a bronze with England under-18s at the Four Nations in Germany.
At club level, Wood played for Horsham and East Grinstead, then had two years at Sevenoaks before joining Holcombe last season.
She was named in the Investec National Conference East ladies’ all-star team in her first season of national league hockey with Sevenoaks in 2012 and was selected for England under-21 training camps that year.
However, she missed out on a place at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival after tearing her ACL at the final camp.
The knee injury kept Wood out for a year and a day after making her return (and her debut) for Holcombe last November, she broke a hand in a cup game which meant another period on the sidelines.
Since recovering from that, though, Wood has not looked back and her form in a series of test matches with Wales prompted the selectors to choose her for Glasgow.
Wood told The Argus: “I still can’t believe it, it is a dream come true.
“I had been playing with the England development squad over the last few months.
“We then had a series with Wales and they said if you play well and improve then the Commonwealth Games selection is coming up but I was fully aware the centralised squad is big.
“I just went out and tried to improve. I scored four goals in three games which was great.
“I was at work when I heard I had been selected and then had to go straight to England under-21 training in Birmingham.
“My family are really supportive and as soon as they heard I had been selected they were buying tickets to go.”
England are in pool B at Glasgow alongside Australia, Malaysia, Scotland and Wales.
They will be looking to put the heartache of the World Cup behind them, when England went into the tournament as third seeds but finished 11th of the 12 sides competing.
That performance cost Jason Lee his job as coach and now, with Danny Kerry temporarily at the helm, there is an opportunity to regroup and bounce back with a strong performance at the Commonwealth Games.
Wood said: “It was a disappointing World Cup but all the girls are looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and we are really excited.
“I think we can do really well and we are aiming for a medal. We are going into it trying to win gold.
“I want to go in and show the coaches what I can do in the set-up and the environment.
“I need to concentrate on the games, while taking in the atmosphere. I will just try to go out and enjoy it.”
Wood insists her grounding at Horsham and East Grinstead has helped her progress so quickly in the sport.
She said: “It was a massive help playing for Horsham and East Grinstead. I had good support from the coaches when I was young and that has been a big help “I can’t thank them enough for giving me the start they did.”