Soccer

Sagna and Alessandrini called up to France squad

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PARIS (AP)

France coach Didier Deschamps recalled Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna on Thursday and handed a first call up to winger Romain Alessandrini for next Wednesday's friendly match against Germany.

Sagna missed out on last year's European Championship while recovering from a broken leg and is set to make his first international appearance since September 2011. Alessandrini has been in outstanding form this season for Rennes.

''Bacary had a big injury, but since he came back he's been playing regularly. There's a lot of competition for places on that right side, but he's used to the highest level,'' Deschamps said. ''I wanted to see him playing again for France and I wanted him to feel the faith I have in him with regards to the French team.''

France has played well since Deschamps took charge after Euro 2012, securing a 1-1 draw at European champion Spain in World Cup qualifying and winning 2-1 at Italy in a friendly match.

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, who scored in Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinals, could make his first international appearance at Stade de France.

''I didn't wait for yesterday's game, to be honest, I had already drawn up my list,'' Deschamps said. ''He's been playing a lot more since the start of the year. He's a young player with a great future.''

The skillful Alessandrini has scored nine league goals for Rennes in his first season in France's top league - many of them spectacular goals from long range.

''I've been watching him for quite a while now and his performances for Rennes have been of the highest quality,'' Deschamps said. ''He scores goals and he sets them up, he has very good technique. It's a chance for him. He's going to discover a new level. The expectation level will be higher, so he will have to be ready for that.''

Although Deschamps called up Varane, he overlooked 19-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba - for now - despite his fine recent form for Italian champion Juventus.

''Pogba has a lot of potential. He's playing in his first full season at the highest level and he's still young,'' Deschamps said. ''But he's a player that I will continue to follow.''

Deschamps expects a stern test against Euro 2012 semifinalist Germany.

''I haven't had the players available for the last three months, it will be a good test for us,'' Deschamps said. ''There's a lot of expectation from the fans after the way we played in Spain and Italy. It's important that the players show the desire on the pitch.''

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Lille), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Romain Alessandrini (Rennes)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)



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