IF life begins at 30, Nicola Docherty is packing a lot into her opening two months. The Rangers left back savoured the thrill of scoring her first Scotland goal a week ago last Tuesday – exactly a fortnight after her landmark birthday – and potentially even more momentous occasions await.

These start on Tuesday night when Docherty's side play their first-ever Champions League tie at Ibrox against Benfica. That's followed by the second round away leg the following week, and then the World Cup play-off match against Austria at Hampden on October 6.

Favourable outcomes in these games would see Rangers make history by qualifying for the Champions League group stages, while Scotland would progress to a second round play-off match against the Republic of Ireland at the national stadium on October 11. All very tidy for a player who just three years ago was working as a carer in Edinburgh, tending to the needs of dementia patients.

Docherty's days and evenings consisted of 6.30am starts, leaving her home in Falkirk to travel to the Scottish capital for gym sessions ahead of the day job, then back to Falkirk for a gulped meal. After that she headed west for evening training with Glasgow City, the club she joined from Rangers at the start of 2012.

The sacrifices were rewarded during an eight year spell with the perennial champions. The same number of league winners' medals brought continuous European football, with her final Champions League match for City before rejoining Rangers being a memorable penalty-shoot out win over Brondby at Petershill Park late in 2019.

“I've had a lot of career highs,” Docherty confirmed of her past life, “including playing in the quarter finals of the Champions League against PSG, and the World Cup in 2019.

“Obviously I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but if we reached the group stage at a club I've supported since I was a kid it would be unbelievable – and of course getting to another World Cup with Scotland is an absolute dream.”

Playing at Ibrox has more significance for Docherty than most, and she has fond memories of last season's SWPL game – another first – against Aberdeen at the Glasgow ground. She scored the third goal in a 4-0 win, watched by her ever-supportive parents in the main stand.

Both that strike and the crisply dispatched right foot shot from just outside the box in the Faroe Islands earlier this month were of a different nature to the one which opened the scoring against PAOK at Katerini Stadium. A lob into the box took a high bounce over the head of the outcoming home goalkeeper, setting Rangers on the way to another 4-0 win which delivered the home and away second round tie against Benfica.

“I don't know if we should talk about that one,” Docherty joked. “But it was certainly a proud moment to score for Scotland – it has only taken me 10-15 years to do it!”

With new Rangers captain Kathryn Hill injured, Docherty is expected to wear the armband on Tuesday. “We created a bit of history by getting through the mini-tournament stage in Greece, and now we're playing against Benfica at Ibrox,” the likely captain said.

“Me and the girls and the staff are very excited for the occasion, and hopefully we can generate a good crowd and get a result to take to Portugal.”

ABERDEEN co-manager Gavin Beith believes his side will get a big lift from the midweek signing of Nadine Hanssen. The Dutch defensive midfielder helped Aston Villa win promotion to the WSL and played for them in the top flight before taking time out last year to start a family.

The baby son having duly arrived, Hanssen has been training with Aberdeen but isn't quite fit enough yet to be included in the squad for today's SWPL match at Spartans. The 28-year-old, who has also played professionally for PSV and Utrecht, is the partner of Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos, hence her availability to add experience to a largely young home-grown side.

“It's one that almost falls into your lap with Kelle being the first team goalkeeper,” Beith, who shares the managerial duties with Emma Hunter, confirmed. “It's really exciting, because she brings quality and has leadership skills on and off the park.”

Aberdeen have taken just one point from their opening four games, but Beith says the performance in the last – a 2-1 away defeat to Glasgow City when Bayley Hutchison scored the only goal to date against a top three side – has given the squad confidence.