THE trouble with writing a column which has a deadline prior to a big game, but appears thereafter, is that you can be left looking a little foolish. Ach well, at least I'll have an excuse this week. 

So it is that I write with a sense of optimism about Scotland's prospects against Israel, while you may be reading it with either a spring in your step or from the depths of despair. 

At the risk of going against the grain though, with the nation hopefully currently swept up in a fervour about our brave boys in dark blue, there is a question to be raised over why international matches are currently going ahead at all in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Had Covid-19 never reared its spiky wee head, Hampden Park would have been packed to the rafters last night with 50,000 fans, and for once, the vacuous marketing slogans that have been accompanying Scotland's bungling qualifying campaigns for over two decades may have rung true; nothing would have mattered more. 

But these are far from normal times, and football is far from the most important thing on the agenda. More's the pity. 

There is no doubt, as Scotland captain Andy Robertson pointed out on Wednesday, that the nation could do with a lift in a week when restrictions on our freedom were tightened once again. But even those words seemed a little hollow given he had also just addressed one of his teammates testing positive for Coronavirus.

The news of Stuart Armstrong contracting the virus, and teammates Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie also having to isolate as a result, wasn't just a blow to Steve Clarke's gameplan. It served as a reminder that while professional football has attempted to return to as normal a programme as possible, footballers are far from immune to the spectre which is currently haunting all of our lives. 

This news on Wednesday came hot on the heels of the French Football Federation releasing a statement on Tuesday evening confirming that Celtic's Odsonne Edouard had tested positive for Coronavirus while away with the French under-21 squad, though anyone who witnessed his performance at McDiarmid Park some 48 hours previously may have questioned his ability to pass it on successfully. (Ba-boom-tsch). 

Still, it was hard to ascertain whose reaction to this bombshell was the more inappropriate, the section of Celtic fans who immediately panicked over his availability for the upcoming Old Firm game, or the lunatic fringe of the Rangers support who made those Q-Anon chaps seem like reasonably level-headed sorts by suggesting the FFF were involved in some grand conspiracy to ensure the delivery of 10 in-a-row to Celtic Park. Presumably, by having the match against their in-form side postponed, when the likelihood is that they will now go into the game without two of their most potent attacking threats.

The vast majority from both sides who passed on their well-wishes for the health of the 22-year-old showed though that even in this football hotbed, the sport is not a matter of life or death. 

Which begs the question of why UEFA and FIFA are insistent upon footballers flying all over Europe and beyond, piercing painstakingly maintained club bubbles in the process and exposing said players to such risk. 

It isn't just international games either, but Champions League and Europa League qualifiers too. Which suggests the one thing that these organisations value above all else, even football itself, is at the heart of the decision-making process. 

Yes, we all want to get as close to normality as we can, and heaven knows our clubs and associations need financial support at this time, but it seems that the welfare of players comes a distant second to the almighty dollar. Or Euro, in this case. 

The return of domestic football has been a welcome pick-me-up for many football fans, even if the spectacle of watching on TV without any supporters present is the worst substitute for the real thing since Graeme Souness threw on George Weah's cousin at Southampton. 

As we have seen in recent weeks though, clubs are fighting an almighty battle to keep their players free from infection and keep the show rolling on. It has proven impossible to escape the effects of the virus completely, with matches postponed or weakened teams being fielded due to outbreaks within clubs. 

The chances of the domestic campaign being played to a conclusion seem remote even without a fair percentage of players based here jetting off to meet up with 25 or so players from other clubs, and then playing against a collection of guys from yet another country.

If this season of all seasons in Scotland has to be called early, then a deadly and highly infectious disease may be the least of NHS Glasgow's worries. I jest, of course, but the thought of eternal arguments over the validity of Celtic's claim to 10 in-a-row should they be top of the league in such a scenario would have you pining for a full-scale lockdown just to avoid the chat in the boozers. 

Obligations to sponsors and TV contracts seem to be driving the circus onward for now. How long is it though, with the clowns cast as ringmasters perching players perilously on the high wire, before the tent caves in?