A Peek Inside the SWPL1 Window

The return of Scottish women’s football is hopefully a couple of weeks away and with just over a week to go until the closing of the transfer window on October 7th we decided to take a club-by-club look at all the signings announced by SWPL1 sides since football stopped back in March and take a look at how they will fit into their new coaches plans.

Celtic

Megan Crosson (Winger/Attacker) signed from Houston Dash

American winger Crosson arrives at K Park from NWSL Challenge Cup winners Houston Dash. The 26-year-old has experience across the world having played in Japan, Spain and Lithuania before adding a Scottish postcode to her list of abodes at the start of this month.

When speaking to her new club’s official website she said, ““I’m a natural winger so I really like to attack, but I have played full-back for a couple of years, so I definitely can operate there, but I’m hoping to be more on the attack this season.”

How will she fit in?

Celtic already have considerably goal threat coming from either flank in the form of Sarah Ewens and Jospehine Giard but both can play inside to accommodate Crosson as they are equally potent whilst holding a central position. With her self-confessed past as a full back she also offers versatility should Fran Alonso look to deploy attacking wingbacks.

Caitlin Hayes (Central Defender) signed from Lewes

A familiar face to current Celtic boss Alonso having played under the Spaniard at Championship Lewes the towering centre half announced her arrival by posting a picture on Twitter of her younger self proudly sporting a Celtic top.

Having played as a youth at Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton she may ring a bell with some Scottish fans as part of the Somatio Barcelona side that faced Glasgow City in the Champions League in 2018.

How will she fit in?

Celtic had already added a centre half in the shape of Jodie Bartle from Coventry United whilst Cheryl McCulloch and Chloe Craig have a wealth of SWPL experience. Hayes presence and goal threat, she scored 13 times from 28 games during her spell in Cyprus with Barcelona, will again provide Alonso with options should formations shift.

Anita Marcos (Striker) signed on loan from Atletico Madrid

Anita returns to K Park after her initial loan spell was cut short by the thing that means we are still talking about transfer window signings as autumn closes in.

The striker arrived in Glasgow having been Atleti B’s top scorer for three consecutive seasons. On her return to Spain this year she joined up with the Atleti squad finding herself on the bench as Las Colchaneras were knocked out by Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals and the expectation is she will return to the Spanish capital at the end of this season.

How will she fit in?

Viewed as an exciting talent in Spain, her loan will have been agreed with a view to her getting regular game time in a new environment. An out and out striker who will compete with the likes of Ewens, Giard and Scotland U19 international Kathleen McGovern for a start up top.

Forfar Farmington

Lauren Perry (Goalkeeper) signed from Blackburn Rovers

The Northern Ireland international goalkeeper comes in from Championship side Blackburn Rovers and despite still being in her teenage years has already made a number of appearances for her national side including a Player of the Match debut performance against European heavyweights Norway.

She has also turned out in the Champions League for Linfield and joins a growing contingent of Northern Irish talent familiar to Head Coach Ryan McConvillle.

How will she fit in?

Fiona McNicoll has long been established as the Angus side’s number one but the arrival of internationalist Perry will add competition for a starting spot.

Eirinn McCafferty (Midfielder) Free Transfer

Midfielder McCafferty had most recently spent time in North Carolina before returning to her north-eastern roots. She was part a Dundee United side that surged up the leagues with her form for the Tangerines earning her a Scotland U19 squad call up in 2018.

A local she spent her formative years at Monifieth FC where she captained the side.

How will she fit in?

With the season voided before it ever really started McConville has yet to fully show his hand but with the experienced duo of Cheryl Kilcoyne and Puskas award winner Billie Simpson both likely to start in midfield she may start the season looking to make an impact from the bench.

Lisa Ryan (Central Defender) Free Transfer

Former Sheffield United defender Ryan missed the majority of 2019 as a result of a knee ligament injury but has returned to fitness to sign for the Station Park side.

A product of the Sunderland Regional Talent Centre she graduated to the senior side before spending time stateside representing the University of Arkansas whilst earning a degree in Graphic Design.

How will she fit in?

Another player who will be looking to smuggle into the team alongside, or by breaking up, an established partnership with Cassie Cowper and Donna Paterson well set at the heart of the Farmington defence.

Leah Fleming (Left Defender/Midfielder) signed from St. Johnstone

18-year-old Scotland youth international Fleming makes the step up from SWPL2 St. Johnstone following a promising 2019 that saw her earn U19 recognition, coming on as second half substitute for former Saints teammate Rebecca McGowan during a 4-1 defeat to Netherlands back in March last year. It’s an obvious statement but moving up a level will provide her with further opportunity for development.

How will she fit in?

Left sided versatility is a much sought after commodity and at 18 she still has time to develop into a preferred role but a spot further up the park seems her current destiny.

Glasgow City

Janine van Wyk (Central Defender) signed from Hjørring IF

The experienced South African captain arrives following a year where she led her national side to their debut World Cup appearance. An injury meant her time in Denmark was cut short with Hjørring IF with the player agreeing to terminate her deal so that she could focus on her recovery.

Capped 170 times by her country she made her City debut during a 9-1 Champions League defeat to German side Wolfsburg, a game made all the more difficult for City due to the circumstances surrounding the current global crisis.

How will she fit in?

With Jenna Clark and Leanne Ross both defenders with midfield tendencies expect van Wyk to add stability to a City central defence that has lost the services of Carly Girasoli and Elisih McSorley since the end of last season.

Her vast experience will be important to the 13-in-a-row champions as they face their biggest ever domestic challenge from their rivals.

Zaneta Wyne – (full back) Free Transfer

Attacking full back Wyne arrived in Glasgow having last played in the Norwegian Toppserien for Klepp IL and will immediately provide a boost to the full back areas following the departure of Nicola Docherty to Rangers at the start of the season that never was.

The 30-year-old French-American was another to make her debut in a Champions League quarter final and can count Finland, USA, Iceland, Cyprus and Sunderland as checkpoints in her football journey to date.

How will she fit in?

Another you would expect to see get regular game time, she started on the left of the defence against Wolfsburg although her attacking instincts were suppressed against strong opposition on what would turn into a long night for the Scottish champions. Off the field Wyne has joined the City Academy set up as an U17 coach.

Sharon Wojcik – (midfielder) signed from Sporting Lisbon

Wojcik’s signing was announced just days before the world stopped leaving the American in limbo following her decision to swap the Iberian coast for G21. Yet another of the UWCL debutants the 26-year-old claimed league and cup honours during her spell in Portugal.

How will she fit in?

Wojcik has been brought in to add further attacking impetus to a City side that will lose some of it’s most recognisable attacking talent at the start of 2021. Against Wolfsburg she played behind a lone striker as part of a hard working three but domestically expect her to push further forward with the a viewing to adding goals.

Lauren Davidson – (attacker) signed from Hibernian

For 22 times capped Scotland U19 international striker Davidson the 2019 season was one of mixed fortunes where flashes of quality were mixed with frustration and extended spells on the bench.

The 19-year-old rejoins City having been a youth league and cup winner with the Glasgow side’s development squad in 2017 and there will be hope that familiar surroundings will look to bring on the talent of a player who has the pace and presence to makes waves should the remaining pieces of the puzzle come together.

How will she fit in?

It is unlikely that Davidson begins the season as a starter but with the pre-contract agreements of some of her new teammates set to come to fruition at the start of 2021 a strong start to the season will put her in position to push for a starting spot.

Hearts

Lia Tweedie (striker) signed from Hibernian

Childhood Jambo Tweedie signs for Hearts following a season where injuries prevented her from building up a head of steam in the green of Hearts city rivals.

She brings experience to a young Hearts squad and it will be interesting to see how the appointment of former Northern Ireland international striker Andy Kirk can help to refine her game.

How will she fit in?

With January signing Lisa Swanson having moved on to pastures new (Swanson having moved to SWPL1 rivals Motherwell although the Women of Steel are yet to officially announce this) Tweedie will be looked to to form a partnership with another former Hibee in the shape of Siobhan Higgins who had made a strong start to the season prior to the break. Swanson’s hold up play complemented the movement and willing running of Higgins and it could be a tactic that Kirk chooses to persist with when football returns, this time with Tweedie up top instead.

Hibernian

Emily Mutch (goalkeeper) signed from Hearts

Following the departure of Jenna Fife to Rangers the goalkeeper spot was one that Hibernian had struggled to fill with rumoured moves for Eartha Cummings and Rachel Harrison never coming to fruition. The arrival of Scotland U19 International Sophie Allison ensured that the Hibees started 2020 with sufficient cover, the arrival of Mutch boosts those options even further.

Another Scotland U19 internationalist Mutch was Hearts number one as they sealed the SWPL2 title on the final day of last season and that week-in, week-out SWPL experience will standard her in good stead for the step up.

How will she fit in?

It will be a straight fight between Mutch and Allison for the number one jersey, both are highly rated but with a season’s experience behind her it is perhaps Mutch who will start the season as number one.

Hannah Scott (midfielder) signed from Glasgow City

The 17-year-old makes the switch to Leith following the disbanding of a Glasgow City Development side that won the 2019 SWFL1 – South title. A Scotland youth international she was the first signing as part of a renewed focus on youth by the Edinburgh side.

Capped at youth level for Scotland she has bags of technique and the step up to SWPL1 can only serve to aid her development.

How will she fit in?

In Rachael Boyle she has one of the best, if not the best, midfielders in the SWPL to learn from but will most likely start the season from the bench with more established names ahead of her as Head Coach Dean Gibson looks to ease in a host of talent from Hibernian’s own academy side too.

Addie Handley (midfield/full back) signed from Boroughmuir Thistle

Hotly tipped by the coaching staff at Boroughmuir the 16-year-old Handley makes the jump from SWPL2 to SWPL1 as she moves across the capital. A regular for Thistle as they secured promotion in 2019 following the demise of Hutchison Vale the capture of the Scotland U15 and U17 cap’s signature is seen as something of a coup for the Hibees.

How will she fit in?

As Gibson stated at her unveiling Handley will be on a steep learning curve this season and so expectations that she will burst into the first time straight away should be tempered. One for the future with hopes to get her up to speed for the now.

Charlotte Potts (midfield/defender) signed from Sunderland

The arrival of 25-year-old Potts will add experience and physical presence to a young Hibernian squad. With playing experience in both North America and England Potts appears to have settled quickly having been Hibs first signing of the summer back in July.

How will she fit in?

Comfortable in defence or as a holding midfielder with the likes of Joelle Murray, Siobhan Hunter and Ellis Notley available in defence the Englishwoman may be deployed in the centre of the park helping to plug the hole left by the departure of Chelsea Cornet to Rangers at the end of last year.

Rangers

Lizzie Arnot (attacker) signed from Manchester United

Rangers have made a number of eye-catching moves in the off season but of those to arrive so far only Arnot is box ready ahead of the new season having joined following the expiry of her contract with Manchester United.

A Championship winner she struggled for game time last season in the WSL but continued to feature regularly for Scotland including being a member of the side that would win the Pinatar Cup earlier this year. Comfortable as a striker or anywhere down the right-hand side her scoring exploits in Scotland prior to her move to United are well known and she returns a more rounded player.

How will she fit in?

Arnot has been signed as a starter and goal-getter but competition will be fierce with the return of international team mate Zoe Ness following injury, the much talked about Bala Devi and the imminent arrival of Kirsty Howat ensuring that the Rangers frontline is the strongest it has ever been.

Sam Kerr (midfielder) signed from Glasgow City (pre-contract arriving 2021)

Dynamic midfielder Kerr made her Scotland debut against Ukraine earlier this year and has been ear-marked by some as the SWPL’s next breakout star following the move of Jamie Lee Napier to Chelsea at the end of 2019. Comfortable moving with the ball at her feet she showed her class when driving play forward against high quality opposition in the Champions League.

She also possess a tenacity that ensures she is rarely out-muscled in the centre and has demonstrated some past versatility with Glasgow City manager Scott Booth trying her out as a wingback in the first version of 2020 pre-season.

How will she fit in?

Rangers have already bolstered their midfield with the signings of Kirsten Reilly, Chelsea Cornet and Sonia O’Neil with club captain Clare Gemmell also competing for a midfield berth but Kerr has international ambitions and for those to be achieved she will be looking to make sure she is one of the first names on Malky Thomson’s team sheet when she arrives, and I think, she probably will be.

Kirsty Howat (striker) signed from Glasgow City (pre-contract arriving 2021)

Last season’s SWPL1 top goalscorer missed City’s February clash with Celtic amid rumours that a move to her childhood heroes was on the cards. Announced on the same day as Kerr, Howat deals in goals, something that was lacking in the Rangers side that started the 2020 season, but her work rate in and around the opposing defence is an under-appreciated asset too.

She can come in from the wings but her best role comes from running direct through the centre and it will be interesting to see how the move to full-time football for the first time will aid her development.

How will she fit in?

At time of writing her debut will have to wait until next year but when she arrives she will be in direct competition with Zoe Ness for the starting central striker spot with Arnot most likely transitioning to her favoured spot on the right hand side. She will also provide an option should Malky Thomson make it a two up top.

Rachel McLauchlan (right back) signed from Glasgow City (pre-contract arriving 2021)

McLauchlan became the latest City player to agree a move across Glasgow this month as the former Yeovil Town full back rediscovered the form that saw her earn her ill-fated move south back in 2019.

An energetic force down the right hand side she is at her best when on the front foot and she has got goals during her City spell including a double against her future employers in last year’s Scottish Cup Semi Finals.

How will she fit in?

In Emma Brownlie Rangers already have a right back on the fringes of the Scotland national side so it will be interesting to see if McLauchlan will be accommodated further up the field or if Brownlie perhaps steps in to provide another option at centre half.

Whatever the end result it’s a riddle that Rangers will be pleased to have following a year of sustained investment in what they will hope to be a title challenging side.

So that’s it. Who do you think will be the best signing ahead of the returning SWPL1 season? Let us know in the comments below.

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