Surbiton Ladies captain Sarah Haycroft says making her England debut is only going to help her team’s play-off quest.

Haycroft took her international bow at the Investec Challenge in South Africa last week, where she helped her country to a bronze medal finish.

England, featuring Esher’s Sophie Bray, secured a third-place play-off triumph over Australia on Sunday, but needed a 3-2 penalty stroke shoot-out success to do it, having been held 2-2 in normal time.

The tournament in Cape Town brought mixed emotions as it featured 4-1 defeats to Olympic champions Holland and hosts South Africa on consecutive days last week.

England lost 3-1 to Australia last Thursday – in the final group game – and then 3-0 to Holland in Saturday’s semi final before Sunday’s success.

And Haycroft is set to learn from that experience when Surbiton, currently fourth in the Women’s Hockey League Premier Division table, host sixth-placed Sutton Coldfield tomorrow and travel to fifth-placed Bowdon Hightown 24 hours later.

“It feels weird to be back in the cold weather of England, but this is a crucial doubleheader weekend for us,” she said.

“It is a great chance for us to move up to third place and push on towards securing a place in the play-offs.

“We played back-to-back games in Cape Town and I found that playing two games in two days is more a mental battle than anything.

“When you feel your legs getting tired it is about pushing on harder. It is really important you stay focused on the game and not worry about anything else.”

Haycroft made her debut in the tournament opening 4-1 defeat to South Africa last Monday and she admitted it was a proud moment to eventually return home with a medal.

“It was an amazing experience and I’m really proud to have made my debut with such a great group of girls,” she added.

“It was always going to be a difficult tournament when you are playing against the Olympic champions, but we were pleased to get bronze.”

Surbiton Ladies, captained  by Georgie Twigg, drew 1-1 at Reading last Saturday, despite Vicky Bryant’s opener for Surbiton against her former club.