England come into the World Cup in Qatar off the book of a dire Nations League campaign, which saw them crash out of League A after failing to win a single game in their group with Germany, Hungary, and Italy.
Couple that with recent injury layoffs for Ben Chilwell, Kyle Walker, and Reece James, alongside the players on the fringe of the squad fighting for a place, England manager Gareth Southgate enters the World Cup with plenty of questions swirling around him.
Their group will be no easy prospect either, with neighbours Wales waiting in a grudge match, as well as the promising young American team and Iran.
Southgate is under pressure, and the circus that surrounds England at a World Cup will hardly help.
Irish international Aine O'Gorman, for one, has doubts about Southgate's ability to adapt under the pressure.
Aine O'Gorman: Southgate and England will need to go out of comfort zone
Aine O'Gorman spoke to Balls at the launch of RTÉ Sport's coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. RTÉ will broadcast almost 200 hours of football across the month of football in Qatar, with all 64 games shown live.
Their punditry and commentary team will include Aine O'Gorman, along with Shay Given, Richie Sadlier, Liam Brady, Didi Hamann, Damien Duff, Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, and Kevin Doyle, among other faces from Irish football.
Coverage will also include comedy from Darren Conway and Joe McGucken, and will span across TV, radio, and social media.
Aine O'Gorman spoke to us at the launch event on England's chances at the World Cup, and said that she doubted Gareth Southgate's ability to make the changes needed to succeed at the World Cup.
Southgate has led England to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championships final but, despite the litany of attacking talent at his disposal, he has done so with a predominantly defensive setup.
O'Gorman questioned Southgate's reluctance to play an attacking style of football. She also commented on the players such as Ivan Toney, Marcus Rashford, and James Maddison who are on the fringes of the squad, and the necessity to adapt with the recent injury issues. She said she did not think Southgate was equipped to make such major decisions:
I find them quite boring to watch, and I think that's Gareth Southgate.
I would like to see them, with the attacking ability that they have, I would like to see them opening up a little bit more and playing football that's more appealing to the eye.
But I don't know if he has the ability to change. I think he's probably very rigid in his style and tactics.
They got to the European Championship final so he has obviously been successful.
During a panel discussion at RTÉ's World Cup launch, former Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given joked that he would consider moving back to Donegal if England won the World Cup, with the celebrations one would expect in the country in the aftermath.
Aine O'Gorman joined that sentiment by suggesting her teammates playing in England may consider abandoning ship if Harry Kane manages to lead the country to a second World Cup this year.
I can't speak on their behalf but I would say they'd have similar opinions to Shay - if they won, they couldn't stand listening to them!
They will go far in the tournament, they're stacked full of quality.
England's first game kicks off on Monday November 21 against Iran at 1pm Irish time.
The 2022 World Cup feels like one of the most open in years, with any one of up to ten teams in serious consideration among pundits and punters alike to take home the trophy on December 18.
Aine O'Gorman is backing Brazil with her heart and head, saying that the romance of the 2002 World Cup team she grew up watching has endeared her to the team. She said "I think they'll win - and I want them to win!"
She commented on the openness of the World Cup, saying that the nature of this year's tournament may open the door for an underdog - namedropping Uruguay and Croatia as teams that had gone under the radar in the buildup thus far.:
I think there's always an opportunity for an underdog, you look at Uruguay and think that they're a really gritty team and they have such star players. International football can sometimes be really cagey, teams aren't really willing to open up that early or concede too many goals. If they stay in the game as long as they can, there's only one underdog. You can't really pinpoint that until the tournament gets going.
[Croatia] got to the final in 2018. Can you write Croatia off? Obviously Modric, Perisic...
This will, however, be a World Cup like no other, in so many ways. With Premier League players departing from their clubs just eight days before England get their tournament underway against Iran, there will be little to no preparation time for managers with their squads.
Looking ahead, O'Gorman commented on the long-term toll this could take on players.
There'll be a lot of Premier League managers banging on about this in the media in the next few weeks, the schedule.
Obviously they're going to come back into a really busy Christmas period. Even emotionally, physically, mentally, getting back into it...it's tough. I suppose the players will be managed.
In one way I think it's great that it's going straight in, I think players will be at their peak but...it will be hard. Pep Guardiola won't be happy!