Dimitri Payet looks set to be rewarded for a fine season at West Ham with a call-up to Didier Deschamps’ France squad for Euro 2016, as the tournament hosts prepare to welcome Russia for a friendly.
Having not featured for his country since June 2015, Payet – who has helped his club to fifth in the Premier League – impressed on his return in a 3-2 victory over Netherlands on Friday, hitting the post after an hour.
The 29-year-old’s performance drew praise from his coach and Deschamps admits he could be left with no choice but to select the former Marseille star for the tournament if he maintains his impressive performance levels.
“If I take Payet, it is because I am sure he can bring something,” Deschamps told Telefoot. “He has a unique ability and knows how to bring others into the game.
“If he maintains the level he showed, the question of whether or not we take him to the Euros will no longer be asked.”
France are considered among the favourites for their home tournament and Deschamps is keen to ensure his side suffer no setbacks in the build-up to the big kick-off against Romania on June 10.
“The important thing is to carry on from our victory against the Netherlands in Amsterdam when we face Russia at the Stade de France on Tuesday,” he added.
“I know the quality of each of the players and, when I have to make choices in this context, it is important that players have more playing time.
“For Euro 2016, we must remain humble, but we have the ambition to go as far as possible.
“I believe we have a competitive ream. With the support of all our fans, we have to be stronger than our opponents.”
Russia are preparing to take on England, Wales and Slovakia in Group B at Euro 2016 and stormed to a 3-0 victory over Lithuania on Saturday.
They appear to be taking a relaxed approach to their warm-up fixtures and, when asked whether he had watched France’s victory over Netherlands, midfielder Oleg Ivanov told the Russian Football Union’s official website: “No, I was watching hockey at that time.”
But Ivanov is certain France will be among the front-runners to win the Euros on home soil.
“They are always contenders, just the same as Germany and Spain,” he added.
The fixture marks France’s first return to the Stade de France since November 13, when terrorist attacks across Paris – including outside the stadium – claimed the lives of 130 people.