SCOTLAND'S return to Murcia for the Pinatar Cup will provide head coach Pedro Martinez Losa with some much needed quality time with his players. The opening game for the holders is against Wales on February 16, and two more will follow at three day intervals with the opposition depending on how the eight-team tournament develops.

Just as important will be the opportunity to train in pleasantly warm conditions, with no further travel involved following the flight to Alicante and short road trip to San Pedro del Pinatar. The head coach had little or no time to get to know his players ahead of the opening World Cup qualifier in September, and the subsequent two international windows were also hectic with, again, minimal time for reflection.

Martinez Losa's six games in charge have, unfortunately, seen a continuation of the plunge in performance levels since the 2020 Pinatar Cup win. Turning that around is imperative ahead of the two most significant World Cup qualifiers in April, when Scotland travel to play Ukraine – the political situation permitting – and then host Group B leaders Spain at Hampden.

The Wales game comes less than 72 hours after Celtic play Rangers in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, with the head coach likely to choose several players from the latter. Full backs Rachel McLauchlan and Nicola Docherty, who have missed Rangers' opening two games of the year, will be available for this afternoon's SWPL 1 match of the day against Hibernian.

The visitors did Rangers, and Glasgow City, a huge turn last weekend when Ellis Notley scored in time added on to earn her side a 1-1 draw. “It wasn't three points, but it felt like it.” Dean Gibson, who has just celebrated two years as Hibs head coach, admitted.

The previous game between the clubs at the Penny Cars Stadium had seen the continuance of a trend, with Charlie Wellings scoring after the regulation 90 minutes were over to give Celtic a 2-1 win. Going into last Sunday's return at the Tony Macaroni Arena, Hibs had taken just one point from their previous twelve league games against the top three.

Whether Hibs can damage Rangers' title hopes today, as they seriously did Celtic's last Sunday, remains to be seen, but psychologically at least they may feel they have turned a corner in terms of results against the teams above them.

There was further good news for the Edinburgh side when the hugely influential Rachael Boyle confirmed she will be staying in the capital to play for the team. It was announced on Friday that husband Martin, a very popular player with the Hibs support, is moving to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Faisaly.

THERE remains a lack of transparency over reports that Championship South side United Glasgow were fielding a transgender player earlier this season. The issue was reported to Scottish Women's Football in October, but three months later the governing body will still not answer specific questions on the matter.

An entirely credible source told me in October that players from another team in the division only became aware of the situation when they ran on to the pitch to play United Glasgow. There is also a suspicion that more than one transgender player might have been involved.

United Glasgow appear to be an admirable, truly inclusive. club which offers opportunities to asylum seekers and refugees, among others, in their women's and men's teams. Nevertheless, SWF have clear transgender guidelines – drawn up by the Scottish FA – which have to be met before any such players can be fielded.

Although these guidelines lean towards inclusion, rather than safety and fairness, they include a requirement for hormone therapy and reduced testosterone levels. It seems extraordinary that, three months after being alerted to the issue, SWF still will not comment on whether or not United Glasgow complied with the guidelines, presuming they were selecting a transgender player or players.

United Glasgow lost 2-1 to Falkirk on October 24, the week the issue became public on social media. They have been unable to field a team in two of their three subsequent fixtures and were beaten 12-0 by Rossvale in the other one.

THE ten SWPL 1 clubs met on Friday afternoon to discuss the recent presentations by the SPFL and SWF.

They will now go back to both organisations seeking further detail and clarity before voting on their model of governance for future seasons.

Time is running out for a decision by the end of the month, but, give or take a few days, that remains the target.