CLAIRE EMSLIE has made such remarkable progress over the past year that she admits she has surprised even herself.

Last summer, much to her dismay, the attacking wide player was omitted from Scotland’s squad for the 2017 European Championships. But her disappointment was tempered almost immediately when in July of last year, she signed for top English club, Manchester City.

And Emslie’s fortunes on the international scene have picked up over the past year too. Following her being awarded her first cap in 2013, she dropped out of the international set-up for a time when she was studying at Florida Atlantic University in America.

But the appointment of Shelley Kerr as national team manager in the aftermath of Euro 2017 saw Emslie brought back into the fold immediately, appearing in Kerr’s line-up in her very first squad in charge.

And Emslie returned the favour, scoring a goal in Scotland’s 3-0 friendly win over Hungary. “The last year has been pretty bewildering for me,” said Emslie.

“I just try to keep my head down and take each week as it comes. But it’s definitely been an exciting year and going forward, I’ll just continue to keep my head down and deal with whatever comes.”

Emslie’s improvement has been of considerable benefit to the national team as well as her club side as they are currently in the midst of their qualifying campaign for the 2019 World Cup. During their qualifier against Poland on Tuesday evening at a chilly Paisley 2021 Stadium, Emslie was the stand-out player in a vital 3-0 win for the home team.

It was a match of considerable drama with Poland being awarded a dubious penalty, Scotland keeper Lee Alexander saving said penalty and Poland having a player sent off before Scotland opened the scoring as the match neared its end.

“It was a hard game - especially at the start,” said Emslie.

“The turning point was Lee Alexander saving the penalty. She really saved us and allowed us to kick on and get the win from there. But I think we showed that we can deal with the pressure and to come out with the win was fantastic.

“It’s always a proud occasion to play for Scotland, especially at home. The Poland game was only my second home game and the home fans were brilliant. And so it was great for me to be able to put on a performance and give them something to cheer about because we really appreciate their support.”

Poland were a hugely physical side but Emslie, who was often double marked such was the threat she was causing, caused the visitors considerable trouble. She even got her name on the scoresheet, scoring Scotland’s second goal of the game.

With Scotland having lost to Switzerland last week, the Poland game was a must-win if they were to keep their hopes of topping Group 2 and securing automatic qualification for the World Cup and Emslie admits she and her teammates could not have been more delighted about securing the win.

“Going into the game, we were confident we could get a result,” she said.

“So it was just about weathering the storm in the first half and then when the game opened up, we managed to play well and score some goals. We need to learn from every game and watch the video back and identify what areas we need to improve and where we can get better. It’s so important to win our home games tough.”

Shelley Kerr was a popular appointment and after the progress made under Anna Signeul which saw Scotland qualify for their first-ever major tournament and the former internationalist has ambitious ideas about what she wants to do with the national team.

Before Scotland play their next brace of World Cup qualifiers in June against Belarus at home before going away to Poland, Emslie has some serious club duty to take care of. Manchester City play Lyon in the semi-finals of the Champions League later this month and Emslie admits the prospect of playing on one of the biggest stages of them all is hugely exciting.

“It’s a huge game for the us - and it doesn’t get much bigger than the semi-final of the Champions League against Lyon, last year’s winners,” she said.

“So it’s massive for the club and I’m really eager to be a part of it.”