It is a really exciting time to be joining up with the national team once again.
Off the back of the great results of the men’s A squad in the past week, coupled with the fantastic form of the Under-21s, it is a really promising and positive time for football in this country.
The upcoming Scotland camp will be very different compared to what a more typical gathering would look like.
This will be the first time the squad will have returned since March, and it will be the first time it has met since all things have changed as a result of the measures in place due to the impacts of Covid-19.
Recently, a small group of senior players had the added protocols outlined on a call with manager Shelley Kerr and the SFA’s head of sports performance, Graeme Jones.
The purpose was to detail some of the more important changes and so we could help make sure the new guidelines are closely adhered to.
Several of the demands are logistical and most follow common sense based on how the rest of society is currently operating.
Everyone will convene on Monday lunchtime at the team hotel, but the first requirement will be for everyone to arrive in a staggered fashion over a two-hour window, followed immediately by a Covid test.
Players will then check-into individual rooms, instead of the normal arrangement of twin rooms.
While for some, this will be considered a more favourable change, I imagine by the end of the nine-day trip many will be wishing for the normality of a room-mate.
Not only are we to have individual rooms, but socialising with one another is also to be minimised and controlled within the hotel’s public areas, and that will be something that will certainly be challenging during the camp.
From there, things will have a fairly rigid format, consisting of meals, training and meetings.
Ultimately, the squad will be kept in an isolated environment as much as possible, to limit exposure from outside contact, while also being cautious with time spent with one another.
The first game will be Albania on Friday night at Tynecastle, of course with no fans.
Often the squad would be allowed a night at home or with family after the game, before meeting back up the following day for the next match. That won’t be permitted this time around either, and all players will remain within the squad’s “bubble” for the entire international period.
Preparation for the second match in Finland will also be slightly unusual with the team travelling the night before game and returning immediately after it.
Getting used to the surroundings of an away match has been sacrificed in the best interests of health and safety, and so we will maximise our time on the training pitch in Scotland to make sure that isn’t an excuse for the result on the night.
Off the mark for Birmingham with first win
It was a big three points last weekend, as we picked up our first win of the season after four games.
The 1-0 victory against Reading was well needed after a progressive, but unrewarded start to the league season.
The game was played at the Madejski Stadium, which is a credit to the Royals, who allow their Women’s FAWSL side to play all their home games on the first-team pitch. An opportunity that most other clubs refuse to even consider.
Our team have largely been written off this season.
Despite recruiting late in the transfer window to bolster the squad, the way the club was portrayed before the campaign began means we are labelled as underdogs most weeks.
While this has affected some of the confidence of few who have remained at the club from previous campaigns, for me it has been something I have enjoyed as almost added motivation.
I didn’t sign for a team I didn’t believe could survive, and not just that, I have grown in confidence this group can compete with most teams in the English top-flight. We won’t get carried away after just one win, but there is no game to fear and each game carries the prospect of picking up points.
The headline after the game was that we had “stunned” Reading, another enjoyable nugget of encouragement we can use to help keep us climbing the table.