Thursday, August 8, 2013

Abidal returns to France squad for Belgium friendly

The Monaco defender has not played for his country since February 2012 following a liver transplant, while Samir Nasri has also been handed a recall.
Didier Deschamps has recalled defender Eric Abidal to his France squad as the team prepares to take on Belgium next week.

The Monaco captain is set to win his first cap since Feb. 2012 after recovering from a liver transplant, while Samir Nasri has also been named in the selection as les Bleus look to bounce back from friendly defeats to Uruguay and Brazil.

“The South American tour was a disappointment when I compare what I expected and what I did not see,” Deschamps told reporters. “We were facing opponents in competition mode, we were not equipped to fight, but in terms of investment, our guys needed more. I now have more information about each individual to prepare for the next step.

“Abidal was not selectable [in June], but I do not want to dwell on it. I think he is competitive again and I do not have a lot of players with international experience. Nasri should have been with us in South America. As soon as he became competitive, I chose him. He’s not a special case. He could definitely have a future in this group. We agree on a lot of things.”

The 44-year-old analyzed the path his team is on, while addressing concerns regarding the lack of striking options at his disposal.

“I have no anxiety, nor overconfidence regarding recent results," he said. "We are on track to achieve our goals for 2014 qualification. I would have liked better results, but the goal remains qualification. I’m not worried about our FIFA ranking.

“It is not that the level of strikers is too low. Karim [Benzema] and Olivier [Giroud] have been quite effective. [Bafetimbi] Gomis is struggling with Lyon, and as for [Andre-Pierre] Gignac and [Jeremie] Aliadiere, I do not have enough perspective on their playing time and their efficiency.

"Unfortunately [Edinson] Cavani and [Radamel] Falcao are not available for selection,” he joked.

Paris-Saint Germain’s Mamadou Sakho and Blaise Matuidi are notable omissions from the squad, as not a single member of Laurent Blanc’s squad was called up for next week’s friendly.

“Not a lot of players are selectable. I like clubs with high-level requirement, but they need playing time to go to the national team.

“I didn’t talk to Laurent (Blanc) about Sakho, but I had J-Louis (Gasset) and I saw the matches. I would not recommend to him anything about his departure. This is his life and his career. Apparently he has already made up his mind, but I do not know if everyone has understood his decision. He played 60 minutes twice.