GLASGOW City will play their first game in more than five months when they meet Manchester United in a closed-door friendly at the Leigh Sports Village this afternoon. It will be a long day for the squad, who assembled at their training base in the south side of Glasgow for Covid-19 testing at 8.30am.

City head coach Scott Booth admits that in normal circumstances his side would never play even a bounce game just two weeks after returning to full contact training.

But with the Champions League quarter-final against Wolfsburg now less than a fortnight away, the friendly, which will be followed with a second against WSL Championship side Durham next Sunday, is essential preparation.

“We’ve had the full squad, minus Clare Shine, for five sessions now,” Booth said. “To be totally honest it’s very tough because we’ve got people at different levels depending on when they came in to join us.

“We have to get players who have been out for five months up to speed very quickly. It’s great to have games this weekend and next, but you wouldn’t normally do this – you’d probably start playing friendlies in three weeks’ time.

“We’re having to fast forward, which is precarious because, as with all clubs in this situation, the players pick up little injuries. Obviously when you’re playing a game of the Wolfsburg magnitude you need to get the players as fit as they can be, but it’s a very difficult balancing act.”

Shine, who has been dealing with off-pitch issues, is being assimilated back into the squad at her own pace.

Hayley Sinclair, meanwhile, has left the champions as she has been accepted for a post-graduate teaching course and wants to concentrate on that.

Booth says he hopes to give all his other players at least 30 minutes of game time against Manchester United and Durham. They include South African captain Janine van Wyk, and the American trio of Krystyna Freda, Zaneta Wyne and Sharon Wojcik.

“Janine is a total professional – an inspirational and experienced defender who is very modest and willing to listen and learn, as well as impart her own communication,” said Booth, who has also been impressed by his other recent signings, said.

The former Aberdeen striker is considerably less enthralled by the lack of professionalism shown by eight players at his old club which led to yesterday’s Premiership game at St Johnstone being called off.

“You get beat off Rangers and then you go out to a pub when part of your professional protocol is that you train and play and go home,” an exasperated Booth said. “I feel for Derek McInnes because you can tell people till you’re blue in the face to do the right thing – but you have players who will disregard all that and just do what they like.”

City are subject to exactly the same testing and protocols as Aberdeen, but have the added issue of players with day jobs who can’t stay within the team bubble.

“Outside of their jobs they are not going into areas where there are lots of people and they are doing their shopping online if they can,” Booth said. “The ones like Jo Love and Leanne Ross, who are not professional players per se, have professional attitudes and 100 per cent know what is at stake.

“For the Man U game we don’t get out of the bus on the way down, we go to the facility which is in their bubble, and then we leave to come up the road and back into our own bubble.”

IF the current restrictions and regulations are difficult for club teams, the problems facing Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr and national team administrator Alex Ralston are on an entirely different scale.

The first two of the six rescheduled Euro qualifiers, against Cyprus and Portugal, are due to be played on September 18 and 22 – a full month before the start of the domestic season on October 18.

And yet while that is problematical, it is almost the least of the issues. The away game against Cyprus in particular is a logistical nightmare as the Scotland players will be arriving from different clubs – triggering further complications with regard to testing, travel and accommodation.

More detail on these problems next week, but UEFA must surely be giving some thought to whether the September qualifying games can go ahead. It’s not as if there’s any great rush, given that the tournament in England has been pushed back to 2022.