It was great fun to watch Leicester City players take part, and occasionally play a starring role, in the World Cup this summer, but now we’re left with the reality of the aftermath.
Several of the club’s best players still haven’t returned to training after their summer exploits, and Claude Puel has admitted that England internationals Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy, who won't return until next Monday, are unlikely to feature in the Foxes’ opening fixture against Manchester United.
United have similar problems, of course. Jose Mourinho has already started the whining, asserting that Leicester have a clear advantage after only 10 players were in action over the summer, compared to his side’s massive total of 11. Bless him.
Still, this does leave two sizeable holes to fill in out starting 11, with arguably the best two players missing out.
Up front is less of an issue - Kelechi Iheanacho has already retuned from his Nigeria duty and played in a couple of friendlies. He scored in both and looks in fine form at the point. Surely he will get the start, and continue a promising partnership with James Maddison.
The defence is a much bigger concern. In the depth chart breakdown, I suggested that club captain Wes Morgan and new signing Jonny Evans would compete alongside Maguire. Evans, however, will miss the rest of preseason injured, so there’s a good chance he won’t be available either.
The only options left in the squad then would be utility man Daniel Amartey, or the long unwanted Yohan Benalouane.
Amartey has shown some ability while here, but is very untested at CB, playing mostly on the right. Benalouane meanwhile, has proven to be a very effective defender, on his day, but might be the least reliable player in the squad. Neither option inspires great confidence alongside an ageing Morgan vs United’s front line.
Well, well. Don't think any of us expected that. Encouraging, and not in the way we thought.— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) August 1, 2018
A host of youngsters given the chance to shine, and taking it, while many of the established fringe players were nowhere to be seen.
Puel's changing of the #LCFC guard?
One final option, slightly less likely, would be to give 19 year old Darnell Johnson a chance to prove himself. Puel, who loves to give young players opportunities, has taken a long look at the England youth international this summer, and he’s played well so far.
Still, it’s never that simple, and Johnson is actually currently playing on a week to week contract, having turned down an extension earlier in the summer.
With one week still left in the transfer window, the other option would be to sign a replacement. I’m not a fan of this idea.
No position requires team work and communication as much as the back four, Puel has already had limited time to build the defence and may be looking to introduce one new signing in RB Ricardo Pereira. First choice Keeper Kasper Schmeichel has only just returned to training, and I feel like adding another moving part at this late stage is asking for trouble.
Demarai Gray and Papy Mendy are also both out at the moment, but Gray could make it back, and Mendy was unlikely to beat out Wilfred Ndidi, Vicente Iborra and Adrien Silva for a starting spot.