Gourcuff, Diarra in provisional France squad

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France coach Laurent Blanc included uncapped defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and out-of-form midfielders Yoann Gourcuff and Alou Diarra in a 26-man provisional squad for the European Championship on Tuesday.

Yanga-Mbiwa contributed to Montpellier's strong title run in the French league this season and benefited from Mamadou Sakho's lackluster season. Sakho lost his starting spot at Paris Saint-Germain under coach Carlo Ancelotti.

''He's a very good defender, very tough in his man-marking'' Blanc said of Yanga-Mbiwa. ''He makes a few mistakes of youth but he's got a great potential. He's had a great season with his club.''

Diarra and Gourcuff have performed poorly with Marseille and Lyon respectively, but Blanc kept faith in them.

Diarra got the nod over Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba while Gourcuff benefited from the absences of Lassana Diarra and the injured Abou Diaby.

Gourcuff has compiled only two goals and three assists in 23 matches with Lyon this season.

''His club record can't be defended,'' Blanc said. ''When he played with his club, he didn't perform well. But with the France team, his record is not that bad.''

Gourcuff's season has been hit by a nagging ankle injury, but Blanc hopes the playmaker's experience and talent will make the difference in Poland and Ukraine.

''We know what he can give us. We can help him to be at 100 percent physically and mentally,'' Blanc said. ''In such competitions, experience is an important factor. The squad is relatively young.''

Blanc named the France-based players on Tuesday after giving a list of foreign-based players last week. He was forced to scratch Younes Kaboul from the provisional squad after the center back picked up a knee injury in Tottenham's 2-0 win over Fulham on Sunday.

''Younes is out for the Euros,'' Blanc said. ''He has a serious knee injury. It's an injury that has bothered him for a while.''

France will also miss the injured Eric Abidal and Bacary Sagna.

On the other hand, Blanc hopes forward Loic Remy will recover on time from a left thigh injury suffered in Marseille's 3-0 win over Auxerre on Sunday and that will sideline him for three or four weeks.

France is in Group D with England, Sweden and Ukraine.

Blanc has until May 29 to name his final 23-man squad.

France will host Iceland on May 27, Serbia on May 31 and Estonia on June 5 in friendlies.



Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (AC Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille) Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City).

Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Loic Remy (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).

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