A GRIN is never far removed from the public face of Jamie-Lee Napier, and it was again in evidence when the 19-year-old joined Chelsea from Hibernian on Friday. The move capped a tremendous six months for the attacker, who won the SBS SWPL1 player-of-the-year award.

Napier also played in the U19 Euros, which were held in Scotland during the summer, and scored three goals in Hibs' Champions League qualifying group. She was second top scorer in the league with 14, albeit seven behind Glasgow City's Kirsty Howat.

There was another highlight in August when Napier was called into the full Scotland squad for the opening Euro 2021 qualifier against Cyprus as an injury replacement. The move to Chelsea is unlikely to harm her chances of being selected again next year.

Nevertheless, there is a caveat. Napier was an automatic choice for Grant Scott at Hibs, but that won't be the case with Emma Hayes. It's important for the player's development to get decent game time at Chelsea – she will train with the first team and is expected to be given opportunities in the Carabao Cup.

The former Celtic player looks slight of build but Scott says she is deceptively strong. What's clear to the naked eye is that she is speedy and a hard worker. Attitude is everything in sport, and Chelsea's new signing oozes positivity.

Those closest to Erin Cuthbert speak glowingly of the London club's professionalism and Hayes' management of players. And as far as Scott is concerned, Chelsea were exemplary in their approaches to Hibs over Napier.

“Chelsea have been magnificent to deal with,” Scott, who was critical of Bristol City's dealings with the club earlier in the year, confirmed. “This move has been in the melting pot for a while and we've spoken to them over a couple of months.

“They asked permission for Jamie-Lee to go down to Chelsea so they could look at her at close quarters. They were accommodating in terms of our fixtures, and waited until we agreed a correct moment.”

The acquisition of the young Scot follows Chelsea's marquee signing of Australian captain Sam Kerr. That alone indicates how hard it will be for Napier at the WSL club, but encouragingly Hayes quickly helped Cuthbert become an even better player when she joined from Glasgow City three years ago.

THE loss of one of their best talents is, as Grant Scott admits, another body blow for Hibs. If there is any slight consolation it is that Napier did not join domestic rivals Celtic or Rangers, with the latter in particular on a strong recruiting drive and apparently offering good financial packages to players.

Once again, when asked what, if anything, the club were doing to counter professional contracts being offered by the Glasgow clubs, a Hibs spokesman stonewalled the question. It is understood the players and coaching staff are also unaware of any developments, despite assistant coach Stewart McGuire having suggested in October that the club had plans in the pipeline.

Former players Emma Brownlie and Rachel McLauchlan chose to join Rangers and Glasgow City rather than return to Hibs when they returned from England in the summer. The writing on the wall couldn't be any clearer for the Edinburgh club and they're leaving it late to react.

IT is understood that Rangers, who have let many of their players go, are pursuing options outside Scotland for their new semi-pro squad. There is unconfirmed talk of a tie-in with a French club, while head coach Greg Vignal has strong links with Liverpool.

Given the limited pool to choose from in Scotland, signing young players on loan from English clubs seems an obvious alternative option for all the top SWPL1 clubs. Why should the traffic all be in one direction?

Celtic, meanwhile, are advertising the position of head coach, with the deadline for applications being December 23. Former Hibs head coach Chris Roberts, who is now assistant to Willie Kirk at Everton and might be of interest to Celtic, is understood not to be interested.

The Glasgow club, too, are reticent to talk about their plans for next season, or discuss any of the full-time signings they have already made. Requests for information met with no response.

FINALLY, the SWPL fixtures for 2020 have been released and the opening games on February 23 are more competitive than some might have wanted. Celtic host champions Glasgow City, while newly promoted Hearts travel to Rangers.

SWPL2 kicks off on the same day, with the number of teams increased from eight to ten. The introduction of promotion play-offs is another welcome development.