Blanc salutes France midfielder
Head coach Laurent Blanc has hailed the impact of Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye as France prepare for tonight’s Euro 2012 quarter-final with Spain in Donetsk.
Blanc has had to field countless questions about the dressing room row which erupted among several players after the 2-0 defeat by Sweden in Kiev on Tuesday.
But a big plus will be the return of Cabaye, who was rested against the Swedes after impressing in the 1-1 draw with England and 2-0 victory over Ukraine.
Blanc said: "Cabaye is indispensable in terms of how he played in the first two games in the competition, absolutely.
"We know players like Cabaye bring a lot to the team. You realise how much players like that bring when they are not actually there.
"He has such great technical ability which really helps the side, gives us a bit more assurance, because we can keep the ball and move it about.
"He has been an important player for a while now – both with his club and the national side."
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny is poised to replace the suspended Philippe Mexes, with Blanc confident the 26-year-old will be up to the task.
He said: "It is a big chance for him. When a player doesn’t play, you are always disappointed and I know the feeling from my own experiences.
"But we have only three central defenders and I always said that if we got through the group that Laurent would have a role to play.
"It is a chance for him. He will be very well prepared, was very close to getting into the starting XI, and now that will happen."
Blanc admitted the dressing room row which followed the defeat by Sweden had delayed preparations for the meeting with the World Cup holders and Euro 2008 winners.
He said: "There is no conflict. There were words exchanged after the game. There was a reaction. Some players were very angry. That is true.
"Certain things were said, we acted on those. People are worked up and angry after a defeat and there were raised voices.
"We took a bit of time to calm everyone down and coming back to Donetsk from Kiev to our base camp allowed us to do that and be a bit more at peace.
"It did delay us in terms of when we could start preparing for the game with Spain but you have priorities that have to be dealt with.
"But since Wednesday everything has been about working towards the game with Spain."
Apart from Mexes, Blanc has a full squad to choose from, with Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery shaking off knocks suffered against the Swedes.