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France can cope without Benzema and Valbuena – Deschamps

Didier Deschamps is confident France can cope without Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena in their friendlies with Germany and England.

The Real Madrid striker was charged last week over an alleged attempt to blackmail Lyon playmaker Valbuena using a sex tape, though Benzema’s lawyer has persistently denied his involvement.

Benzema, who is also struggling with a hamstring injury, was not included in the latest France squad, while Valbuena was also omitted as Deschamps claimed he was not “psychologically ready” though he was involved in Lyon’s 3-0 win over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

Asked whether France might suffer from the duo’s absence, Deschamps said: “I don’t think so. I have confidence in the 23 players I’ve selected. As the players know, the most important thing is the group.

“I never have any regrets. You can’t live with regrets and move forward. When I make decisions, I stick with them.”

Hatem Ben Arfa earned a recall to the squad after his excellent early-season form for Nice, but Deschamps has dismissed the idea that the 28-year-old is endeavouring to shed a “bad-boy” image.

“He is happy, that’s obvious. At Nice as well, he is smiling, certainly more since the last match and their win,” he said.

“I’ve never considered Ben Arfa as a ‘bad boy’. You attach the labels that you want to. I had him as Marseille coach, too. Today, he is happy, and he communicates that.”

France face Germany on Friday at the Stade de France, with the World Cup holders having struggled to hit top form during the qualifying phase for Euro 2016.

Deschamps, however, is expecting a stern test against Joachim Low’s side.

“We’ll have an idea after the game,” he said of his own side’s progress. “This German team are the world champions. They deserved it, they were the best at the tournament.

“They had a more complicated qualification phase for Euro 2016.”

Mon 9 Nov, 2015
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