THE withdrawal of Rachel Corsie from the Scotland squad which travels to Spain on Tuesday is a blow, but head coach Shelley Kerr believes her captain will be back playing soon.

The Seattle Reign defender, pictured, has a long-standing meniscus issue and a decision was taken on Friday to have an exploratory operation. She will miss the friendlies against Norway and Russia, but if all goes well could be back for the double-header against New Zealand in March.

“Rachel’s training load has been getting managed for some time,” Kerr said. “It’s a little niggle that has got progressively worse, so we feel that for her own welfare the time has come to look at it further. It has been manageable, but it’s not going away. We feel it’s best to go in and do an exploratory to get to the root of the problem.”

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As vice-captain Kim Little is still recovering from the anterior cruciate ligament injury which kept her out of the Euros, a new player will be wearing the armband in Spain. The obvious candidates are Joelle Murray and Jo Love.

Murray performs the captain’s duties with distinction for Hibernian, but wasn’t in the side for either of the two recent World Cup qualifiers. However, with Corsie out a place in defence opens up.

Love isn’t the Glasgow City captain, but is by far the most capped player in the Scotland squad.

THE announcement of the fixtures for the Scottish Building Society 2018 SWPL season was accompanied by the bold prediction that clubs at the top end of the domestic game could be professional, or at least semi-professional, within three years.

The hope was expressed by Vivienne MacLaren, who is chair of Scottish Women’s Football. Yet while the sentiment is admirable, it appears to be wildly optimistic.

MacLaren herself says it would cost a minimum of £300,000-£400,000 a year to fund a squad of professional players, coaches and backroom staff. Her assertion that there are “a lot of large organisations” who have the desire to help develop women’s sport may well be accurate – but not, one suspects, to the extent of paying the wages of footballers and coaches in Scotland.

Most people reckon semi-professional women’s football can only happen if men’s clubs are willing to finance it. As not even Celtic are showing the remotest willingness to do this, MacLaren’s optimism, sadly, appears to be misplaced.

THE launch of the top leagues saw Joelle Murray assert that Hibernian's main target this season is again to end Glasgow City's 11-in-a-row run. Winning the last four domestic Cup competitions has been a great achievement, but it's the title the Edinburgh club want.

Their rivals across the M8 have lost key personnel. None of their four Irish players is expected back, while central defender Lauren McMurchie has moved to Dubai.

Hibs, who have recruited Shannon McGregor from Aberdeen, look to have the early advantage – but City have new signings up their sleeve and, as ever, will be highly motivated to prove the doubters wrong.

CLUBS hoping to be promoted from SWPL2 this year will have noted with some interest Motherwell's latest signing.

Former Glasgow City and Celtic midfielder Kerry Montgomery is a high end SWPL1-standard player, so Motherwell manager Eddie Wolecki Black is entitled to describe her arrival as a massive statement of intent by the club.

It's the second time he has signed the combative Northern Ireland internationalist, having taken her from Spartans to City in 2015.