France’s Matuidi called up for qualifiers
France’s injury concerns worsened on Wednesday as Saint-Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi was called up for European Championship qualifiers against Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina in case Karim Benzema and Yohan Cabaye can’t play.
France coach Laurent Blanc summoned the uncapped player on Wednesday because Real Madrid striker Benzema and Lille midfielder Cabaye are in doubt for both games.
The injured Benzema and Cabaye are unable to train and were to undergo medical tests later Wednesday.
Benzema received a knock on his right ankle during training earlier this week while Cabaye’s injury remains undisclosed.
Five other players – Loic Remy, Adil Rami, Guillaume Hoarau, Mamadou Sakho and Abou Diaby – trained apart from the rest of the squad without a ball.
Blanc will be without Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra – who picked up a hamstring strain last weekend – and the injured Samir Nasri for its Euro 2012 qualifying opener against Belarus on Friday.
France then plays at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sept. 7.
Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff is not allowed to play after being sent off at the World Cup while Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan are unavailable after they were suspended by the French federation following the squad’s training strike in South Africa.
Matuidi was selected for a friendly against Norway last month but didn’t play.
About 300 fans attended France’s training session, which was marked by Zinedine Zidane’s return at the team’s training ground.
Blanc had asked his former France teammate to join the players at training to give them some extra motivation.
"Everyone knows what he achieved during his career but not everyone knows the man himself," Blanc said. "He is an interesting character and the players will be able to get up close to him."
Blanc and Zidane were part of the France team which won the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000.
On Friday, France will play its first home game since its World Cup fiasco.