France coach Didier Deschamps hailed Mathieu Valbuena’s attitude in trying circumstances, on the verge of the winger’s 50th international cap.
If Deschamps deploys Valbuena in their friendly against Serbia in Bordeaux on Monday, the 30-year-old will reach the half-century milestone on the back of scoring the match-winner in his 49th appearance – a 1-0 win over Portugal on Friday.
Deschamps, a former club coach of Valbuena at Marseille, said the Lyon man dealt well with adversity, having been used off the bench in his past two France caps.
Valbuena has two goals in his past three international appearances, tallying eight in his career.
“We are not surprised,” Deschamps told a news conference when asked about Valbuena’s performance.
“I coached him for three years at Marseille, sometimes it wasn’t easy for him when he was on the bench.
“But in bad periods, he is someone who takes refuge in working hard.
“With France, he has always showed a consistent work ethic, he is very efficient.
“It’s not a big deal if he did not start the game in Lisbon and I talked about that with him.
“With these two very close games, he has experience because he has a lot of caps and is a player who is an important part to our system.
“If he keeps being decisive like he was against Portugal, it’s an interesting option for us.”
Manchester United teenager Anthony Martial made his international bow against Portugal, coming on in the 74th minute – and captain Hugo Lloris claimed he could rise to become a great for his nation.
“Above all, he is a young player, an endearing boy,” the goalkeeper said of Martial, who United reportedly unearthed €80million for to poach him from Monaco.
“He is a bit shy, but is well involved in the group. He’s going to make his mark, but it’s never easy.
“We talked a lot about him lately. He has to digest all of that, but he has huge potential.
“I’m sure that tomorrow, or in the future he will serve the national team and continue to grow.
“In any case, he really has huge potential to become a great player. But he must take one step after another.”