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France draft Mavuba for injured Diaby

France on Tuesday drafted Rio Mavuba of Lille to replace Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby, who withdrew with a hip problem ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Stade de France.

France are out to do the double over the Baltic side after their 1-0 win in Kaunus last Saturday to smooth their path to South Africa 2010.

A win will see Raymond Domenech’s side can leapfrog the over-achieving 52nd ranked team in the world and move into second place in Group Seven.

That would set up Les Bleus nicely for their September encounter with group leaders Serbia, who are on 12 points compared to France’s seven with the 1998 winners and 2006 finalists enjoying a game in hand.

The absence of Diaby is a headache for Domenech, already missing Jeremy Toulalan as the Lyon midfielder is suspended after picking up his second yellow card in Kaunas following the one he received in last October’s 2-2 draw with Romania.

As well as the inexperienced Mavuba, France could also call on Bordeaux’s Alou Diarra to work alongside Lassana Diarra with Toulalan unavailable.

Mavuba has won six caps but last appeared two years ago in a friendly win over Austria.

Revised France squad

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Toulouse)

Defenders: Gael Clichy (Arsenal/ENG), Rod Fanni (Rennes), William Gallas (Arsenal/ENG), Philippe Mexes (Roma/ITA), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla/ESP), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Adil Rami (Lille)

Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ENG), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER)

Forwards: Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Thierry Henry (Barcelona/ESP), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse)

Tue 31 March, 2009
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