Arsenal Women have taken “the handbrake off” Caitlin Foord after three stop-start years where consistency has been a rare companion for the Matildas striker.
And the outcome, according to coach Joe Montemurro, is a free-scoring and revitalised spirit capable of turning the FA Women’s Super League into her own personal playground.
Montemurro brought Foord, 25, to England, along with Matildas left-back Steph Catley and goalkeeper Lydia Williams, to put her career back in the fast lane.
And his faith in the 81-cap, 20-goal Australia forward is proving well placed, with four goals and five assists so far for an Arsenal side sitting atop the pile with five wins from five games.
“She came here to get back into her rhythm and be the Caitlin Foord that we all know,” Montemurro explained.
“She is starting to show signs of that... being the player she was three years or so ago.
“She had maybe a bit of an indifferent period over in Japan and the US and it was important that I freed up her mind to start enjoying her football and to play with no pressure.
“Basically, we’ve taken the handbrake off. Knowing the type of character and person she is, Caitlin just wanted to be given a fair opportunity and be rewarded for her hard work.
“She probably hasn’t had that fair go in the US (Portland Thorns) and Japan (Vegalta Sendai Ladies).”
Montemurro believes being liberated from the grind of shuttling between the NWSL and the W-League to play in what is now regarded as the world’s best domestic competition will further fuel Foord.
“I just think she needs to find a level of consistency and settle in one place and go for it,” he added.
“Instead of bits and pieces, travelling back and forth to the US. I think that had an adverse effect on her consistency.
“She’s found a place now where she knows that we will believe in her and back her to be the top quality player she already is.”
Injuries have curtailed the impact of both Catley and Williams - but Montemurro said both are close to full fitness and will play their parts this season.
Catley, who worked under Montemurro at Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory, has made two appearances to date, and is on her way back from a calf injury.
The 26-year-old has been “cotton-wooled” a bit as a cautionary measure, with Montemurro proclaiming: “She’s going to be great for us and she really suits our style.
“In this environment she’s going to be elevated to the next level and can go on to be one of the best left-backs in the world.
“When we signed her she was very much in demand by a lot of big clubs.
“She now has the opportunity to really showcase what she can do. I think she’s poised to light up the WSL.”
Williams, 32, has yet to play since quitting her duel duties at Melbourne City and OL Reign to head for London.
But she is back training after arriving with a hairline fracture near her ankle.
“She probably could have played through it but there was no need and we’ve erred on the side of caution,” Montemurro said.
“She’ll be good to go soon. I didn’t sign her as a back-up.
“Certain games will be suited to Lydia and others to (Austrian incumbent) Manuela (Zinsberger).
“We’re very lucky to have both of them.”