France coach Deschamps recalls Mendy and keeps Giroud

PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps recalled left back Benjamin Mendy and kept faith with striker Olivier Giroud on Thursday for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Albania.

Mendy was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad last year but has not played for Les Bleus for more than a year after having surgery for a knee injury. He is now pushing for a starting place in the Manchester City team.

“He’s been playing more and his physical condition is much better,” Deschamps said. “It’s a choice to call Benjamin back, it’s important given what he’s experienced with us. He’s doing everything he can to get back to his best.”

Giroud’s tournament-leading 11 goals helped Chelsea win the Europa League last season and qualify for the Champions League. But he has hardly played in coach Frank Lampard’s youthful-looking Chelsea team this season.

Giroud needs three more goals to join Michel Platini with 41 and tie for second place on France’s list of top scorers. France hosts Moldova at Stade de France next Thursday and is at Albania three days later.

France is in second place in Group H behind Turkey.