THE PARS are without a game this weekend but have a vested interest in BBC Scotland’s live Friday night Championship action (7.05pm) with their closest pursuers in the play-off race, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, visiting relegation-haunted Partick Thistle. In a tight betting heat, the Jags shade favouritism at 31/20 (Unibet), a draw is 12/5 (Bet365) and Caley 19/10 (Hills).

Inverness also have a role to play in the Irn-Bru Cup final with their Caledonian Stadium ground hosting the contest between Ross County and Connah’s Quay on Saturday (BBC Alba/BT Sport 2, 4.30pm). Prices for the match should be up later in the week, at present the only odds available are for lifting the trophy; County are 2/7 (Betvictor) and Connah’s Quay 3/1 (Bet365).

Qualification for Euro 2020 starts this week and Scotland have had plenty of air miles travelling to Astana to face Kazakhstan today (Thursday, Sky Sports Football, 3pm). The Scots are 17/20 to win the game, a draw is 12/5 and the hosts are 15/4 (Bet365).

Prediction: Kazakhstan 0 Scotland 1.

Scotland are in a group (Group I) that has two strong nations, Belgium and Russia, and three weaker ones; as well as Kazakhstan, Cyprus and San Marino making up the numbers. Belgium are 3/10 (Unibet) to top the group, Russia 9/2 (Skybet), Scotland 20/1 (Bet365), Cyprus 300/1 (Unibet), Kazakhstan 500/1 and San Marino 5,000/1 (the bookmakers seem to have missed three noughts off there).

Later that day, Northern Ireland kick-off their campaign with what they hope will be a routine home win against Estonia (Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm). 'Norn Iron' are 1/2 (Ladbrokes), a draw 3/1 and Estonia 8/1 (Bet365).

ITV are broadcasting the England versus Czech Republic encounter tomorrow (Friday, 7.45pm) and the English are fancied to make a winning start. The Three Lions are 3/10 (Skybet/Unibet), the Czechs 13/1 (Unibet) and a stalemate 4/1.

Saturday features the Republic of Ireland’s trip to Gibraltar (Sky Sports Football, 5pm) and although the host nation have picked up international victories recently, they are dismissed as no-hopers at 80/1 to beat the Irish. Eire are 1/25 and a draw 16/1. The Republic are 6/4 (Betfair Sportsbook) on a -3 handicap, Gibraltar at +3 are 17/10 (Ladbrokes) and a tie 10/3 (Bet365/Betway).