I can’t say that I enjoyed some of the football results from the recent international fixtures: Scotland 3 Slovakia 3; Israel 2 Czech Republic 3; Republic of Ireland 7 Wales 0.

Why? Well, those are the Covid-19 scores in case you thought you had missed a sports bulletin. Scotland might have felt hard done by in having lost Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Israel at Hampden on Thursday night and Slovakia at the weekend but it was an insignificance in comparison to what Stephen Kenny, the Republic of Ireland manager encountered.

Taking on a role more suited to a pub team manager, Kenny scraped together a squad that – while competitive and probably should have beaten Wales on Sunday afternoon – was seriously hampered by the loss of more than half a team.

Forwards Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly remained absent from the side that lost out to Slovakia in the Euro play-off semi-final but centre-back John Egan, forward Callum Robinson and midfielders Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda, who all featured in that game, were also missing against Wales due to Covid-related issues.

This is the sorry juncture at which we have now arrived concerning international football in the coronavirus era. The Hibernian manager, Jack Ross, said recently that Covid-19 would have to be treated like any other illness/injury by football.

He has a general point in that if the game is to persist then the virus is simply part of the new reality. It’s a different matter, though, on the international stage where overseas travel comes into play. Domestically, clubs are adhering to strict principles that limit the possibility of contracting and spreading the virus. That is not to say that the same isn’t happening in international football.

You only need to read the statement that the Football Association of Ireland issued in the aftermath of its Covid cases to see that governing bodies are doing all that they can to adhere to guidelines. Farcically, it transpired that the initial test that robbed Kenny of Idah and Connolly pertained to a backroom staff member and it wasn’t even clear whether that was false positive by the time of yesterday’s game.

“In light of these developments, the FAI wishes to make it clear that it complied with all Uefa and HSE [Irish Health Service Executive] Covid-19 guidelines concerning the availability of players and the well-being of staff around the Slovakia v Republic of Ireland fixture in Bratislava on Thursday night.”

In short, the tight restrictions that apply to the domestic game start to loosen once players begin to move across multiple locations and widen the net of those they come into contact with. It raises the question over why the games are going ahead at all.

The aftermath leaves clubs to count the cost. Celtic will host Rangers this weekend without four key players in Hatem Elhamed, Nir Bitton, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard.

One of the aforementioned – Christie – does not even have the virus but under protocols must self-isolate because of his proximity to Armstrong while on Scotland duty. The other three – who have tested positive – were with Israel’s senior team and France Under-21s respectively.

Celtic are understandably frustrated. In an echo, of the FAI’s statement they say that of all the other players who remain in training with the club each has returned a negative test with more than 2000 carried out.

The inference is clear: the players got the virus elsewhere. Is that enough to point the finger directly at the associations?

No, as Celtic admitted themselves in a statement released at the weekend: “While we apportion no blame whatsoever to anyone, this is now a very difficult position for us and, clearly, for all other clubs.

“Like all other clubs, we must do all we can to protect our squad and limit the very clear and obvious risks to players.”

In reality, it is neither the fault of the club nor the associations. The better question to ask is whether the Nations League matches needed to be played at all?

FIFA already insist that players must make themselves available for games if they are clear of the virus. It is a month since Scotland beat a third-string Czech Republic 2-1 in the Nations League after manager Jaroslav Silhavy was forced to scramble together an XI from club sides at short notice following an outbreak in the national team’s training camp.

The two nations face each other again tomorrow night and the Czechs have already taken the precaution of naming a shadow squad for the match should the same fate befall them again – a decision that proved prescient after Silhavy and an unnamed player had to enter self-isolation after returning positive tests. Four members of the reserve squad will be promoted to the senior set-up, and will fly out to Scotland with the rest of the squad this morning.

It is undermining the integrity of international football but in turn it is placing clubs in an invidious position and simultaneously leaving them compromised over the quality of teams they can field for crucial matches. What’s more, it’s punishing clubs simply for having international players in their ranks.

Worryingly for them, they get to go through this all again when the play-off finals and Nations League group games spin around again a month from now. FIFA awards compensation to any player injured while on international duty in the finals stages of a major tournament in an agreement struck with the European Clubs Association but no such agreement exists for qualifying campaigns.

A legal reckoning is surely on its way the first time a major club – one of the European heavyweights – finds itself in a situation where it loses multiple players all at once.