Goalkeeper Kim Jappy has answered an SOS to save the day and return between the sticks for Caley Thistle’s Championship North opener at East Fife on Sunday.
Player unavailability on the week of the season starting left boss Karen Mason in a race against time to recruit a keeper.
She called on previously retired Jappy, 44, to help her old team out and that’s a weight off the manager’s mind.
Mason said: “Sarah Murphy is unfortunately unavailable this weekend, so I have been on a wild search for a keeper.
“I had managed to pull my old goalkeeper Kim Jappy out of retirement to give us a hand. It’s been quite a dramatic week, trying to get that organised.
“She’s in place for Sunday and I’ll be trying to convince her to help again if we have any other games where she is needed.
“Hopefully she’ll be more than willing to do it. She was quite happy to step in and give it another whirl for us.
“We know we can rely on her. It’s good to start on a strong footing, rather than having someone perhaps in goals that shouldn’t be there. To have her at the back means she will be solid as a rock as usual.”
Fifers tipped to be real deal this year
Mason, meanwhile, believes their first match opponents, East Fife, will prove to be genuine promotion rivals as the Highlanders target a top two finish.
Like all clubs, the Inverness team are looking forward to hopefully getting a clear full run this season after Covid halted play for far too long.
Hard work throughout the summer, mainly in friendlies against teams from their own league, has put ICT in an upbeat mood ahead of the weekend’s kick-off.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle WFC (@ICTWFC) July 21, 2021
Mason hopes her players coming firing out the traps to score an early direct hit against East Fife at the Bayview Stadium.
She said: “As a division, there are no new teams that have come into our side of it, so they are all teams that we are familiar with.
“I’d say there will be a clear divide between the top four and five and the bottom four or five.
“I would like to think that we’d be competing for the top two spots.
“Montrose will be strong and East Fife will be dogged as well. Those are the main two teams that we’ll be keeping an eye on.
“Having East Fife first up, that will be a big chance for us to put an early marker down at the start of the season.”
Tunnel vision focus for Mason
Mason reckons the element of surprise can sometimes throw teams off target in this division and that’s why they must just keep their own house in order.
She added: “There will be tough games throughout the season and there will be teams that can surprise you. You look at a team’s result one week then you see the following one and it’s completely not what you expected.
“You have to be prepared for that as well, but we have just got to ensure that we take care of our own games. We can’t be relying on anyone else doing us favours. We need to be on the ball straight away.”
The season opener is almost upon us and the hard work has not stopped yet! 5 more sleeps 😃 pic.twitter.com/Gi07UU3Uym
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle WFC (@ICTWFC) August 10, 2021
Last week, the Caley Jags added midfielders Lauren Donald and Laura MacIver to their ranks, following on from the signings of younger players Abbey Ross and Tina Kelly.
Derby day for cup semi-final
Meanwhile, Caley Thistle’s development side and Clach will meet in the semis of the Highlands and Islands League Cup.
ICT, who are top of the Highlands and Islands League, will face their derby opponents at Inverness Royal Academy on Sunday, September 5.
In the other semi-final, Sutherland face Caithness in Helmsdale.
In the Highlands and Islands League this Sunday, Caithness host ICT at St George’s Park, Clach welcome Sutherland to Grant Street and Brora Rangers are home to Kirkwall City. All games start at 2pm.