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Deschamps refuses to discuss Benzema return

Didier Deschamps is refusing to be distracted from France’s friendly matches by speculation over the future of Karim Benzema.

The Real Madrid striker, who scored on his return from injury in La Liga on Sunday, was overlooked for the games with Netherlands and Russia on March 25 and 29.

With an ongoing investigation into his part in the alleged blackmail attempt of France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, and after the emergence of claims last week that he was called as a witness as part of a money laundering case, Benzema’s return to the national squad for Euro 2016 remains the subject of intense speculation.

Deschamps, however, would not discuss the prospect of his comeback while he is preparing for Friday’s friendly with the Dutch, though he did praise his performance in Madrid’s 4-0 win over Sevilla.

“I’m not going to comment on it. There are 23 players here, I only talk about those. We’ll see after,” he said.

“He scored a very nice goal, returning from injury, he fully participated in the victory of Real Madrid. He is in good shape and he is effective this season.”

Deschamps admitted he already has an ideal squad in mind to take to Euro 2016 on home soil in June, but conceded he will be happy to see his players stay fit and give him some selection headaches.

“I have some convictions. I know where I want to go and who I want to go with. But there are things you don’t expect, as you saw at the last World Cup,” the France boss continued.

“It’s better to have anticipated it and to have plan B and C, as you say. I hope nobody will have any physical problems so I’ll have a huge amount of choice.”

Deschamps handed a recall to Dimitri Payet following his impressive form for West Ham, and the former World Cup-winning midfielder expects the 28-year-old to have been frustrated at missing out earlier this season.

“He has missed only two call-ups, September and October, because he was injured in November [for France’s last matches]. It’s two too many for him, I don’t doubt it,” he added.

“Dimitri has had a very good season with a great consistency in his performance. We can see it with West Ham playing at the top of the table in England.”

Mon 21 Mar, 2016
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