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France stars excited by Kante´s return for Euro 2024 ahead of Austria opener

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Jun 2024

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France are preparing to open their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria on Monday, and Les Bleus cannot wait to welcome back a familiar face in N’Golo Kante.

The former Chelsea man has been hampered by hamstring issues before requiring surgery, while his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad saw Kante dropped by Didier Deschamps.

Diminutive midfielder Kante had not appeared in international football over the last two years but made his return to Les Bleus’ squad for the tournament in Germany.

Calling upon years of trophy-winning experience in the middle, Kante’s France team-mates have been impressed with the 33-year-old’s efforts in warm-up friendlies against Luxembourg and Canada.

“I had the impression that there were three of him,” French forward Marcus Thurman joked at a press conference on Saturday.

“There’s no time to play in training any more. As soon as we have him on our team, we win. He has reminded us in a week why he was one of the greatest midfielders in Europe.”

Olivier Giroud echoed a similar sentiment when praising the two-time Premier League champion on Friday.

“He has not changed,” veteran Giroud said. “He is the same player I have known for years in the national team and at Chelsea. He is everywhere. It’s great to have him with us.”

The 55-cap international appears set to start when France open their Group D campaign against Austria in Dusseldorf, if Deschamps’ high praise last week is anything to go by.

“For those who had doubts about his abilities and the intensity of play, he is still at the same level,” said Deschamps after Kante’s surprise recall.

“Even though he hasn’t been here for a while, he’s not out of place.”

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