IT is a sign of the new professional times that for the first season there has been at least as much focus on club football as the international team. Expect that to become a growing trend, but for the next 10 days attention switches back to Shelley Kerr’s side.

Friday’s European Championship qualifier in Portugal, and the match against Finland at Easter Road a week on Tuesday, will be defining in determining who wins Group E.

Having lost 1-0 in Helsinki six points are essential if Scotland are to take control of their own destiny and go on to win the automatic qualifying place for the 2022 finals.

The common denominator in the double header is again Anna Signeul. Now the Finland head coach, the penultimate game of her 12- year spell in charge of Scotland was against Portugal in Euro 2017.

The match in Rotterdam didn’t go well, Scotland losing 2-1 to the lowest-ranked side in the tournament. It was, however, particularly notable for two aspects.

The first was the opening Portuguese goal, after Lana Clelland had squandered a great chance. Central defender Vaila Barsley had been rock solid since being brought into the Scotland squad that year, but she miscued horribly and Portugal took full advantage.

That error ended Barsley’s brief six-game Scotland career. She was dropped for the final group match against Spain and has never featured in any subsequent Kerr squad.

The other, much more positive, aspect was Scotland’s first goal at a major championship. It was scored by Erin Cuthbert, who came off the bench to replace Clelland and restore parity before Portugal grabbed their win.

GLASGOW City, who host Hearts at Broadwood today, will know their Champions League last-32 opponents on Tuesday.

Scott Booth’s side are seeded and so will avoid Europe’s top teams, including Manchester City and Chelsea.

Reaching the last 32 for a 10th successive season is another proud achievement for the club which has dominated Scottish football for so long.

The constants in this European run are captain Leanne Ross – although she was out injured against Valur on Wednesday – and Scotland’s most capped outfield player Jo Love.

Booth reckons the first half performance in Reykjavik – where they drew 1-1 before going through on penalties – was City’s best of the season, surpassing the 90 minutes of the Celtic win. Especially, he says, as his players were facing a winter hazard which is at its most blinding in Iceland.

“The players literally could not see 10-15 feet in front of them because they were playing directly into the low sun,” the head coach said.

“Leanne never, ever, wins the toss, so I said to Jo you must try to win it and play with the sun at your backs – but she didn’t guess correctly either.”

Today’s game will be the last in City colours for Rachel McLauchlan, Sam Kerr and Kirsty Howat. They are out of contract at the end of the month, and there are no SWPL1 games next Sunday.

That means the trio will be available to play for their new club, Rangers, against their old team on December 13.

What makes this hugely significant league game even more fraught for City is that three or four days earlier they will play their Champions League last-32 away tie, with the home leg to come the following midweek.

THERE was a deserved honour for 17-year-old Aberdeen striker Bayley Hutchison when she won the Scottish Building Society SWPL player of the month award for October. With a 50 per cent weighting given to the votes of head coaches it’s a good one to win.

The teenager’s goalscoring exploits had an unintended consequence when, in a hotly- disputed case, Aberdeen were deducted points for not registering her as a first-team player when she was 15. Nine goals in her last eight games were not enough to prevent relegation from SWPL2 in 2018.

Aberdeen, and Hutchison, are now back in the second tier. Nine more goals and seven assists have been a big factor in six wins from six – leading to a five-point lead at the top of the table going into today’s game at fourth-place Partick Thistle.

How good could Hutchison, who is still at school, become? She has athleticism and a very obvious eye for goal, but young players are by definition a work in progress.

“What I think is really different about Bayley is her determination to win,” says Aberdeen co-manager Emma Hunter.

“If she scores three goals it’s not enough. She always wants to get on the ball and push the boundaries.”