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Laurens: France's "Next XI"

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Anelka defends Evra over comments

Nicolas Anelka has thrown his support behind former France teammate Patrice Evra, stating he would 'go to war' with the controversial Manchester United defender.

Evra, 32, caused a storm when he lashed out verbally at four high-profile media pundits, including former French internationals Bixente Lizarazu and Luis Fernandez, in a TV interview in October in which he branded them "parasites."

National team coach Didier Deschamps resisted calls for Evra to be dropped for France's World Cup playoff double-header with Ukraine last month, and Anelka, 34, has now spoken out in support of his former teammate.

"If one day I have to go to war, straight away right next to me, on the front line, I would put Patrice Evra. And there aren't many that I would put there. Pat replied in his way. By doing that, he served as a spokesman for others. And he accepts that, because he's not the kind to shirk responsibility," the West Bromwich Albion striker told L'Optimum magazine.

"Journalists don't always take into account the violence of what they say and so sometimes go too far. It's only going to get worse. I fear it'll end badly and there will be several incidents. People must not lose sight of the fact that football is a game. I would find it healthy that it remain so."

Anelka received an 18-game national team ban, effectively ending his international career, after L'Equipe reported he had insulted then-France coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing-room at a World Cup game in 2010.

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