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France’s Mbappé doubtful, Dembele returns to Brittany

Rennes (France) (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps revealed on Thursday that Kylian Mbappé was uncertain for Friday’s friendly against Paraguay as fellow wunderkind Ousmane Dembélé returns to the grounds of his former club Rennes.

The match in Brittany will allow the 2016 Euro finalists a warm-up for their World Cup qualifier against Sweden in Stockholm on June 9, followed by a friendly against England on June 13 at the Stade de France.

The 18-year-old Mbappé is one of the hottest properties in football after emerging in the Monaco side that won the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals this season.

“Kylian had a little problem, nothing serious but it’s a slight thigh discomfort. Today he’s not going to train, we’ll see for tomorrow. But I won’t take any risks,” said former World Cup winning player Deschamps.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Dembélé, who left Rennes last year to join German club Borussia Dortmund, returns in triumph after becoming one of the top winger’s in Europe.

Both Mbappé and Dembélé are the rising stars of a France team preparing for next year’s World Cup challenge and current lead qualifying Group A ahead of Sweden.

“The objective is to prepare the team for June 9 against Sweden,” said Deschamps of Friday’s clash. “It’s important for us and very important for the Swedes.

“Among the players who will start some have not played for some time, I’m going to have to make changes at half-time and during the match.”

France captain Hugo Lloris heaped praise on Mbappé, who earned his first call-ups in March, but warned against putting too much pressure on the young players.

“We’ve seen some very talented players come through. With time, either one confirms or not, there are various fortunes,” said the 30-year-old Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper.

“Mbappé has a crazy talent, he is very precocious and mature. The path is still very long, but what he has showed in six months is quite impressive and has been recognised across Europe. 

“He is natural, very determined, and shows great strength and self-confidence.”

Lloris added: “This match is essential to keep everyone under pressure, keep the rhythm, prepare for the match against Sweden, to find freshness.

“It’s my role, and the older players’, to relay this message to the younger players.”

Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette is also set to return, but Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kanté is struggling for fitness after a gruelling Premier League season.

“He (Lacazette) has a lot to prove,” said Deschamps. “He comes out of a great season with Lyon, he has gained regularity, was his club’s major player. One year out from the World Cup, we always have things to prove and win.”

France squad

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Paris SG), Benoît Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Barcelona/ESP), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris SG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Benjamin Mendy (Monaco), Djibril Sidibé (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/ESP), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid/ESP), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea/ENG)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (Paris SG), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/ENG), Adrien Rabiot (Paris SG), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham/ENG), Corentin Tolisso (Lyon)

Strikers: Ousmane Dembélé (Dortmund/GER), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappé (Monaco), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

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