Lee Erwin is finally free to play for Ross County after world body Fifa ruled in the Dingwall club’s favour.
The ex-Leeds United, Kilmarnock and Motherwell striker joined the Highlanders as a free agent from Iranian club Tractor Sazi three weeks ago, agreeing a two-year deal.
But with the Persian Gulf Pro League outfit retaining his playing registration, Erwin’s debut was placed on ice awaiting international clearance.
It is understood Tractor felt they have a valid compensation claim against the Bellshill-born target man, even though he went unpaid for the final six or seven months of his contract.
After landing the lucrative move to the Middle East last August, the 25-year-old made just seven appearances up to November, scoring four times.
Just a month after leaving Rugby Park, the manager who signed him – Welsh legend John Toshack – was sacked. Three more managers then filled the post through to the summer.
Erwin hasn’t kicked a ball competitively since November, having effectively been frozen out of the Tractor team.
County pursued the matter through FIFA and an adjudicator has now ruled he is free to resume his playing career in Scotland.
County co-manager Steven Ferguson was just pleased to have on board a striker he feels will bring extra quality to an already powerful and competitive frontline.
Ferguson said: “Lee Erwin is available now and with Simon Power, our loanee from Norwich, also fully fit again we’re at full strength.
“Again, it’s a headache for Stuart and I, but it is the headache we all want.
“It is great to have those two joining the group that has already started the season so well. They appreciate they’ll have a fight on their hands to get into the team.
“Lee is short of match practise, of course, but he has trained really hard since coming to the football club.
“He has been waiting on this registration situation getting sorted and, thankfully, that’s now done.
“He will come into the group and that’s exciting for everybody. It strengthens the options we have.”
Ferguson admits he was blown away by the attitude and desire of his team at Tynecastle, but still disappointed to leave the capital with only a point from the scoreless draw.
The County co-manager added: “On the day, we were the width of a post away three times, their goalkeeper had a couple of good saves and we’ve missed the target on occasions.
“It wasn’t our day in that regard, but we still kept a clean sheet and dominated large parts of the game.
“To do that at Tynecastle against a team like Hearts, in our second game back in the Premiership, is really positive for Stuart and I.
“The players look and feel comfortable in that environment, but you have to respect going to places like Tynecastle or you can come away with a hiding.
“We didn’t look like we were going to get a hiding at any stage and that was down to the work ethic, organisation and the time put in on the training ground.”