IT will be three years next month since Scotland won the 2020 Pinatar Cup. They beat Iceland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland to top the table with nine points, three ahead of the higher-ranked Nordic nation.
Since then – and there’s no way of sugar-coating it – results and performances have often been disappointing. A demoralising Euro qualifying campaign ended with the top seeds finishing 10 points behind Finland and seven adrift of Portugal.
World Cup qualifying was better, despite the 8-0 loss to Spain in Seville. The return 2-0 defeat at Hampden last April – two months after Scotland finished fifth in a briefly expanded eight-nation Pinatar Cup – offered hope that a corner had been turned.
The vibrancy of that performance has rarely been seen since. A battling World Cup play-off win against higher ranked Austria was an exception, but was followed five nights later by defeat to the Republic of Ireland.
In view of these negatives, which continued with a third out of four placing in San Pedro del Pinatar on Tuesday, it seems strange that so little attempt has been made to freshen up the squad. The world was not biting its fingernails to discover who won the tournament in Murcia – so why were so many tried and tested fringe players yet again taken to Spain? 
The point is not to disparage long-time stalwarts who made huge contributions to the historic Euro and World Cup qualifications, but to question why the door seems so firmly shut on new faces. Jamie-Lee Napier was the only player to be given a (very brief) debut at the tournament.
To be fair to Pedro Martinez Losa, he has invested faith in Jenna Clark, Lauren Davidson and latterly Brogan Hay. But what of older SWPL players who seem destined never to be given a Scotland chance?
To give two examples, Maddie Fulton (28) is a regular stand-out at Glasgow City. Amy Gallacher (24) provided another impressive performance for Celtic against Rangers on Friday night. Are these players, and others, not even on Martinez Losa’s radar?
I put that question to the head coach in Murcia and he responded by saying there is a long list of players who are always under consideration. He also gave me a detailed explanation of what factors he looks for in his selection process. These include how close to international level a player’s club matches and training are – Caroline Weir and Erin Cuthbert being in the top rank. Also considered are the role of a player in her team; whether she plays for a good quality club (the rest of the squad); and whether she is a regular starter for her side.
The head coach would not be drawn on whether the SWPL is a sufficiently elite environment for Scotland players, other than to say he feels the standard is improving. But regardless of how many Scottish games he watches on video, he very rarely attends them in person.
It may simply be the case that there are no further SWPL players worthy of international inclusion. But if that’s true, it’s very worrying for the future of a side which shows no sign of returning to an upward trajectory.

CELTIC, who have never won the SWPL title, put down a big marker when they beat defending champions Rangers 3-0 at the Excelsior on Friday night. It was an emphatic win against a side who hadn’t lost a league game since June 2021.
The result put Celtic on top of the table on goal difference from Glasgow City, but Leanne Ross’s side will go back top if they avoid defeat against Aberdeen today. A win would open up a significant seven-point gap on third-place Rangers.
The latter had nine first-team squad players away on international duty, with some only returning home very late on Wednesday night. Jamaican striker Kayla McCoy didn’t get back to Glasgow until the day of the match. 
SWPL chief executive Fiona McIntyre says there was no option but to play such an important match so soon after the international window. It was scheduled for today, but she explained: “From the outset, all parties agreed we did not want to be competing with the Viaplay Cup final.”
With the stadium being used by Airdrie yesterday, and tomorrow being too close to Wednesday’s full card of SWPL fixtures, McIntyre continued: “This year’s calendar is particularly challenging. 
“The split into a top six and bottom six means all fixtures must be played prior to March 12.”