The unprecedented November start time has brought about a completely new way of approaching an international tournament, and early-season form which can often be repaired now has little room for error. This is exemplified through Villa’s position of 16th in the Premier League table.
With that in mind, players like Tyrone Mings, who were on the fringes of their national team squads, will now likely stand little chance of making the cut for the tournament.
However, with Lucas Digne’s standing in the France squad a little more secure, his performances might draw even more scrutiny, especially given the recent displays from his competitors for the left-back role in Ferland Mendy and Theo Hernandez.
In the blink of an eye, the former Everton defender could have lost his spot on the plane to Qatar.
Having played just eight times this season for the Villans, an ankle injury thwarted what had been a dismal campaign so far for Digne.
It seems that, since his move to the Midlands, the 29-year-old has struggled to recapture the form that he showed at Goodison Park.
He was once seen on Merseyside as the “perfect Baines replacement”, as Paddy Boyland claimed, boasting dynamism and a sweet left foot which has seldom been seen at Villa Park.
The 46-cap ace has since only scored once and set up four goals in his 25 appearances for Villa. That is a disappointing output for someone whose game focuses so heavily on their attacking return, with writer Peter Guy highlighting how Digne can often be “poor defensively”.
The £160k-per-week defender has only recently returned from his layoff with a brief appearance in Villa’s thrashing at Newcastle United last week and will hope to make some kind of significant impact in his team’s final three games before the World Cup commences.
It has been a season to forget for the Frenchman, who will be praying that his previous displays have been enough to secure him a place in his national team’s squad for Qatar 2022. Judging by this season, though, he stands little chance of getting the call from Didier Deschamps.