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France dealt blow before World Cup qualifier

Paris (AFP) – Having already lost Benjamin Mendy and Laurent Koscielny France saw another defender pull out of their crucial World Cup qualifiers after PSG’s in-form Layvin Kurzawa cut his knee in training.

The left back would likely have started for France as they take on Bulgaria on Saturday and Belarus three days later knowing they may still need all six points to book a direct berth for the 2018 World Cup.

The French football federation said Kurzawa had clashed with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud in Monday’s training session, and has been replaced in the squad by Marseille’s Jordan Amavi.

The 23-year-old Amavi joins the France squad for the first time but the left back role is likely to be filled by Barcelona’s Lucas Digne.

Manchester City’s Mendy has a kne injury while Arsenal’s Koscielny has an Achilles problem.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele are also out with long-term injuries.

France top Group A with 18 points, one ahead of Sweden, while the Netherlands are third on 13 ahead of Bulgaria (12), Belarus and Luxembourg (both 5).

The Group winner goes to the finals whilst the runners-up face a play off.

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