Koscielny called up to France squad
France coach Laurent Blanc on Thursday called up Laurent Koscielny to the squad that will face Albania and Romania in European Championship qualifiers next month.
Blanc hopes the Arsenal defender will recover from the back spasms he suffered in the 2-0 loss to Liverpool last weekend as center backs Philippe Mexes and Mamadou Sakho are not available. Mexes is still recovering from a knee injury while Sakho picked up a hamstring injury in the French league.
''We have a lot of injured players in that area,'' Blanc said. ''We hope that he (Koscielny) will manage to recover. It's not an area where we have many certainties.''
France leads Group D with 13 points from six matches, followed by Belarus, which has 12 points but has played one game more.
France visits Albania on Sept. 2 and Romania on Sept. 6. Albania and Romania both have eight points from six games.
''They are two important and tough away matches,'' Blanc said. ''Those two teams still have a chance to qualify for Euro 2012.''
''They will do everything to beat us. They will shake us up before the match, during the match and after the match,'' he added. ''We will have to be mentally strong.''
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena also returned to the squad.
''We will need players who can help us create chances and score goals,'' Blanc said. ''If Ribery gets back to his best, he can become a very important player, whether it's with his club or with the national team. We expect a lot from him.''
Blanc kept his faith in Guillaume Hoarau despite the Paris Saint-Germain striker's poor run of form.
''That's someone whose mindset is irreproachable,'' Blanc said about Hoarau's inclusion. ''Dropping him from the squad would not have been a good thing. We will certainly need him, maybe not for those two matches, but maybe for the next two ones or maybe for next year.''
Valencia defender Adil Rami was also called up although he will miss the Albania match through suspension.
Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris Saint-Germain), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Loic Remy (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).