Jackson bears pressure for men's hockey

27 July 2012 / 17:16

Great Britain hockey's poster-boy Ashley Jackson is more than happy to personally shoulder the pressure which comes with being genuine medal contenders at a home Olympics.

The East Grinstead midfielder has, in some quarters, been labelled the "David Beckham" of the men's team, but Jackson is more than happy to be put under the spotlight if it helps others perform better away from it.

"I have no problems with it. It could be me, I'm not bothered about the pressure," he told Press Association Sport. "If anyone wants to put it on me and that makes it slightly easier for someone else to perform because there is less pressure on them, then that is fantastic.

"But it could be anyone scoring the winning goal and making the difference because we have such a strong squad. I honestly believe there are a lot of world-class players in our squad and by the end of the summer there could be 16."

Jackson has been a key player for GB almost ever since he made his debut six years ago. During that time he has scored 75 goals in 133 combined appearances for GB and England and he poses a threat in both open play and from set-pieces.

He admits a long lay-off with a hip injury sustained at the end of 2010 set him back a lot - particularly his penalty corners - but has put those troubles well behind him.

"On an individual level I try to work and improve on my very set skill within those corners," he added. "But the penalty corner team will be working on numerous different things - with more moves than you can ever imagine - to make sure we have all angles covered.

"We have worked as hard at corners as we normally do and I've also worked hard on my corners. I went through a bit of a rut but I've come out the other side now so fingers-crossed, when it really counts, everything comes good.

On Jackson's Olympic debut in Beijing the team finished fifth, their highest place since the gold medal winners of 1988. This time around though, only a podium finish will be good enough for Jackson, who said: "We are fourth in the world because we have climbed up from ninth and have been in semi-finals of all major competitions.

"We deserve that fourth place but we don't want to deserve it in the Olympics - you want to deserve a medal, whatever colour it may be."