Deschamps keeps France World Cup squad for Nations League
PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps has kept faith with the players who won the World Cup for upcoming UEFA Nations League matches.
With the exception of goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who is injured, Deschamps named an unchanged 23-man squad from the tournament in Russia.
“For me it’s logical. Steve would also have been here if he wasn’t injured,” Deschamps said on Thursday. “This doesn’t mean the team won’t change. Things can also change over the next few games.”
“He didn’t hesitate for one second,” Deschamps said, explaining that the 32-year-old center half changed his mind when asked to come back. “He’s still at an age where he’s competitive.”
Payet, who was among France’s best players at the European Championship two years ago, missed the World Cup after injuring a thigh in the Europa League final.
“The door’s not shut for Dimitri,” Deschamps said, offering encouragement. “Dimitri was very important for us during Euro 2016 … I’m sure he’s still very attached to the France jersey.”
Deschamps warned his players about getting carried away by their newfound status as World Cup champions.
“Nothing beats winning the World Cup. France has a status (so) beating France now carries more weight,” Deschamps said. “We have to maintain these high demands. If anything, we have more obligations now, because the expectation level is going to be higher. People will look at (the players) in a different way.”