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Versatile Mbappe in Deschamps’s thoughts


Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines (France) (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps enthused over the attacking versatility of teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe as Les Bleus look to secure World Cup qualification this weekend.

Deschamps’s team face Bulgaria and Belarus in their final two World Cup qualifiers, knowing a pair of victories would book France’s ticket to Russia.

The pacey Mbappe has mostly operated as a central striker or, similar to former French star forward Thierry Henry, on the left side of a front three during his short career.

But Deschamps believes he can perform equally well on the right, where he’s been positioned for new club Paris Saint-Germain this season.

“He’s doing great things with Paris. He’s playing lots of matches and confirming what he’d shown at Monaco (last season), while improving,” said Deschamps.

“He’s more on the right at Paris, although with a lot of freedom.

“He’s a forward, he can play well down the middle, on the left, and there were big doubts about what he could do on the right, because we’d not seen him play there, and (now) we realise he can perform well in that area too.”

France hold a one point lead over Sweden in Group A but both the Netherlands and Bulgaria are still in contention to take either automatic qualification or the play-off spot that second place would offer.

France travel to Bulgaria on Saturday before hosting minnows Belarus three days later.

Any slip-up could cost them top spot, at the least, particularly with Sweden hosting Luxembourg on Saturday, where three points are expected.

“It’s a decisive week since it’s the final two pool games,” added Deschamps.

“Now we’re closing in on the aim and we’re well aware that it’s through these two matches that we should reach that goal: qualifying for Russia.

“It’s all in our hands and requires two wins.

“We’re not going to dramatise the situation but we have to be aware of what we’re playing for and what three points in Bulgaria would mean.”

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