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Vieira poised to help beleaguered France

SoccerNews in European Championships, Ligue 1, Serie A 14 Jun 2008

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France's faint hopes of making it to the Euro 2008 quarter-finals were boosted here on Saturday with an upbeat assessment on the well being of captain Patrick Vieira.

Les Bleus have missed the hugely influential Inter Milan star's tactical flair and leadership in the draw against Romania and Friday's 4-1 drubbing by Holland.

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning 31-year-old – capped 105 times – was sidelined with a left thigh problem in the run up to the championships, but is now set to play the role of France's white knight for the must win game against Italy.

If France beat the world champions and at the same time Romania fail to beat what is likely to be a second string Dutch side then France will qualify along with Holland.

Anything less and they return home.

Commenting on his captain at the team's Swiss training centre in the foothills of Lake Leman manager Raymond Domenech said: “Patrick Vieira? He's better, he's training normally.

“He could play against Italy, we're doing the best possible to bring him to the level of this Euro.”

France striker Thierry Henry emphasised what it would mean to have Vieira back in the fold.

“If he can play it's important to us.”

Domenech, who made three changes – Henry, Sidney Govou and Patrice Evra – for the Dutch game, is deliberating over what sort of team to put out against the Azzurri in Zurich.

“We'll carry out a review to find out where we are with the players and who is up to playing a difficult third match.

“We'll see who is right both physically and mentally, who has the desire for this unique game.”

Asked if he feared the Dutch, given that they are already qualified, may treat the match as a training run out for their reserves opening the way for a Romania win Domenech commented: “It's us who have put ourselves in this situation. I'm not going to judge anyone else.

“If the boot was on the other foot and I was in the Netherland's position I wouldn't worry about other teams.

“The present situation means it's outside of our hands, but there still remains a small chance.”

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