N’Golo Kante of Premier League leaders Leicester City has received a first call up to the France squad as coach Didier Deschamps revealed his 23-man squad for friendlies with the Netherlands and Russia.
West Ham striker Dimitri Payet, fresh from an FA Cup quarter-final wonder goal against Manchester United, was recalled as the Euro 2016 hosts play the Dutch in Amsterdam March 25 and host Russia at the Stade de France four days later.
Deschamps declared the list a strong indicator of who would be called up for the 2016 Euros to be hosted across France in June an dn July.
“This is not the definitive list but an important indicator. The vast majority, all being well, will be there,” he said.
Deschamps, who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 as France captain, said he had prefered the 24-year-old Kante to Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin.
“It’s not that I don’t trust Morgan, but I wanted to give Ngolo a run out before making a final decision (on the Euro squad),” Deschamps said.
“He’s a complete midfielder, a great ball winner and passer with a great sence of positioning,” said Deschamps. “He’s been stringing together top level performances with Leicester, who are top of the Premier League.”
The French coach also added that he and the French FA would make the decision on any return of Karim Benzema.
This in spite of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying this week he felt the Real Madrid striker, currently facing charges of complicity with blackmailers, should not be at the Euros.
In Benzema’s absence France have a plethora of alternatives, Payet being one of them.
“It’s a logical sporting decision, a decision based on his performances with his club side,” said Deschamps.
“Payet will get a run out and its good he’s with us for the two matches.”
Another form striker in the squad is Bayern Munich’s rookie Kingsley Coman, who set his side up for a Champions League quarter-final spot Wednesday with a goal and an assist in their dramatic come-from behind win over Juventus.
Another revenant is Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, who is preferred to Manchester City’s Eliaquim Mangala, as jostling for position for the right to represent the hosts at Euro 2016 begins to intensify.
Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma/ITA), Patrice Evra (Juventus/ITA), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona/ESP), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City/ENG), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool/ENG), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid/ESP)
Midfielder: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace/ENG), Lassana Diarra (Marseille), N’Golo Kante (Leicester/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Paul Pogba (Juventus/ITA), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle/ENG)
Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres de Monterrey/MEX), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Anthony Martial (Manchester United/ENG), Dimitri Payet (West Ham/ENG)
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