KIM Little might have worn the same Stella McCartney-designed Team GB Olympic jersey as Ryan Giggs but she has no desire to share with him the unfortunate distinction of being a world class footballer who was never allowed to represent their home nation in a major tournament.

The 26-year-old from the small Aberdeenshire village of Mintlaw had only a matter of months to celebrate helping the Scotland women’s team to their first major finals before she suddenly had to get her head round the fact she wouldn’t be part of it.

Leaping over an outstretched leg in training at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground in May, Little felt a twinge in her knee and knew immediately that something was wrong. Her worst fears confirmed, three weeks ago she underwent surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament tear and damaged meniscus. She has been talked through the process by Ellen White, a former Arsenal team-mate and current England rival, who has twice undergone a similar procedure by the same surgeon.

Hands across the divide or not, passions will be running high when Scotland kick off their Women’s Euro campaign with a meeting against the Auld Enemy at Nieuw Galgenwaard in Utrecht on Wednesday night.

While the operation went well, the usual six month lay-off for cruciate ligament injuries will limit Little to punditry duties with Channel 4 for the continental showpiece. But the current BBC women’s player of the year plans to return stronger than ever and already has one eye on making it to the World Cup in France in the summer of 2019.

“Whenever you get a bad injury, you think about all these things that you might have done differently,” Little said. “But it was just unfortunate, a complete freak. I literally jumped over a tackle, landed normally on my right leg and something twisted in my knee.”

In 10 years of professional football, her talents taking her across the globe, from Seattle to Melbourne, this was an unwelcome novelty factor. “I have had to manage a few little niggles, a few muscle strains and things like that, but never anything that has kept me out for more than a week or two,” added Little, a midfielder who has scored 48 goals from her 121 caps to date. “But it was painful and I knew right away that there was something wrong.

“It swelled up badly the next day and I was a little bit upset – because I knew for a fact it meant I would miss the Euros. Even now obviously it is really disappointing not to be going but as an athlete you accept pretty quickly that it is not meant to be and someone else will get an opportunity to be in the squad.”

“Ryan Giggs obviously played for Team GB in 2012 and maybe that [the fact he had never played in a major tournament for Wales] was why he was so keen to play in it. But the recovery rate these days with this injury means that the majority get back fitter than they have ever been. I am not putting a timescale on my return. I know the more care and diligence I take with it the less chance there is of me doing it again. But I am still pretty young in terms of a footballing career so I am sure I will still have plenty of opportunities in front of me.”

Spain and Portugal will be no pushovers either, but whatever happens, as Channel 4’s PR campaign indicates, this Euros could be a ‘game changer’ for the sport in this country.

“Exposure has increased in the last few years but this will be a different level of exposure, with Channel 4 showing Scotland games too,” said Little. “I really hope people get behind the team.”