Cabaye, Remy and Varane recalled to France squad

France coach Didier Deschamps recalled midfielder Yohan Cabaye
and striker Loic Remy to his squad Thursday for an upcoming World
Cup qualifier against Finland.

Cabaye, who has 23 international caps, missed last month’s
qualifiers against Georgia and Belarus because he lacked match
fitness. At the time, he was refusing to train for his club
Newcastle as he tried to push through a move to join Arsenal.

Cabaye has since returned to the Newcastle team and scored with
a brilliant first-time strike in Monday night’s 3-2 loss at
Everton.

France plays Australia in a friendly match next Friday and then
hosts Finland at Stade de France four days later.

Remy has scored three goals in four games for Newcastle. His
last France appearance was in March against Georgia.

”Remy is effective, and he has the advantage of being able to
play in several positions,” Deschamps said. ”He is quick and make
runs from deep. He’s very versatile.”

Deschamps’ team looks certain to finish second in Group I behind
Spain and having to qualify through the playoffs next month. They
are level on points with Spain, but the World Cup winners have
played a game less and have home games against Belarus and
Georgia.

”I don’t know what the odds are (of finishing top),” Deschamps
said. ”But they must be very slim.”

Real Madrid center half Raphael Varane and Liverpool center back
Mamadou Sakho are also back in the squad. Varane only returned from
injury on Wednesday night and played the full 90 minutes in the 4-0
win against FC Copenhagen in the Champions League.

”Raphael was with us for the games in March. He’s been training
regularly for the last three weeks and played yesterday,”
Deschamps said. ”It seemed logical to recall him. Above all, it’s
what he’s capable of doing. I consider him to be an important
player for us.”

Deschamps still has to figure out who to play in attack, with
Karim Benzema failing to score in his past 15 international
appearances and Olivier Giroud in fine form for Arsenal this
season. Deschamps normally prefers one center forward and attempts
to get them to play together have proved fruitless so far.

Benzema was taken off in the second half after a disappointing
performance in the 0-0 draw at Georgia and Giroud replaced him in
attack for the 4-2 away win against Belarus. Benzema did not play a
part in that game.

”Karim has scored goals for Real,” Benzema said. ”I want my
players to be as competitive as possible for their clubs, because
that benefits us.”

Deschamps is unsure whether to experiment with his team against
the Australians.

”I’m not saying that those will start against Australia will
start against Finland,” Deschamps said. ”We have to prepare as
well as possible for the matches in November.”

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda
(Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia).

Defenders: Eric Abidal (Monaco), Gael Clichy (Manchester City),
Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester United),
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho
(Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle); Clement Grenier (Lyon),
Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester
City), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle).

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal),
Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery
(Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).