THE arrival in Scotland of Bala Devi in two day's time (tues) is the perfect illustration of how much has changed, and so quickly, at the top end of SBS SWPL1. The Indian captain and playmaker, who turns 30 today (sun), will also have to make huge adjustments.

Although Devi's last club was Manipur Police, the move to Rangers was facilitated by the Ibrox club's partnership with Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC. The two year arrangement was announced in September and Devi was in Glasgow for trials two months later.

Initially, from the outside at least, a move seemed unlikely. Devi was a police officer and had previously turned down chances to play in Spain – so a move to a league which remains largely amateur didn't seem the most obvious choice. However, head coach Gregory Vignal and his staff were impressed with what they saw, and the upshot was Wednesday's signing announcement.

The move is subject to international clearance but Amy McDonald, Rangers' women's and girls' football manager, says that is a mere technicality. Devi will become the first female Indian footballer to play professionally, and the Ibrox club's first Asian internationalist.

The forward's domestic and international scoring levels have the potential to give her new side a huge boost if she can bring them with her to Scotland. Her goal ratio for India – 52 in 58 games – is of Julie Fleeting proportions.

So, will she be played as an out and out striker?

“She can play both striker and No 10,” McDonald said. “It depends what style we're trying to play.

“She's definitely a goalscorer as you can see from her stats, but the key thing for us is that when she came over in November she showed she's a player who will be able to add strength in depth and increase competition for places.”

India are No 57 in the Fifa rankings, having managed to break into the top 50 just once, in 2013. They have a very good record against neighbouring nations, but have never qualified for a World Cup and are a long way off the top Asian countries.

Rangers also announced in midweek that Vignal will share the head coach duties with Malky Thomson, who, coincidentally, briefly coached a men's side in India.

“Malky was a reserve coach at Birmingham when Gregory was a player there,” McDonald explained. “Gregory wants the best for the women's programme, and they have a mutual respect, so Malky coming in is not an issue for him.”

And another thing

ANOTHER Women's Super League match will be played at an iconic English men's ground when Everton host Liverpool at Goodison Park next Sunday. The corresponding game at Anfield in November drew a crowd of 22,500.

Everton, under manager Willie Kirk and his assistant Chris Roberts, won that game 1-0 and are enjoying a really good season. They are fifth in the table, just behind Manchester United on goal difference.

These two clubs, plus Reading and Tottenham, are competing to be best of the rest behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The top three are involved in a very tight title race and Roberts acknowledges they are currently in a mini-league of their own.

“You just have to look at the table to see there is a gulf,” the former Hibernian head coach confirmed. “The top three have got much bigger resources and more international players across their squads, But I still believe on the day any team in the league can beat them.

“At the start of the season our ambition was to finish in the top half of the table. We felt internally it was absolutely achievable and the minimum we should be pushing for - even although history suggested it would be a challenge.”

Given that Everton finished second bottom the previous two seasons, and only returned to the top flight in 2017 as a consequence of Notts County folding, Kirk and his coaching team are doing a fine job.

“We brought in a new group of players to add to the existing ones, and it just felt in pre-season there was going to be something really positive happening,” Roberts said.

“Our integration at Everton is fantastic. We train at the same top class facility as the men, and all the sessions are in the morning with shared expertise around the building. I've loved it since I've been here.”

The Everton captain also has a strong Hibs connection. “She's been great,” Roberts said of midfielder Lucy Graham. “We played against Reading, who are a decent team, recently, and Lucy was just fantastic, setting up two goals.”