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 By Ian Holyman

France's World Cup hopes depend on young players - Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has warned France's talented youngsters they must change their attitude for the team to flourish at this summer's World Cup.

France have Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Manchester United's Anthony Martial, but they stumbled through qualifying and were unimpressive again during friendlies against Colombia and Russia.

Koscielny, one the squad's experienced members, told RMC the young players must realise their talent will not be enough at the tournament.

"We have a very young squad with enormous talent," Kosicelny said. "The youngsters have loads of talent. I think it's more a question of mentality. It's up to us to work, to be more dominant, hungrier. It's an aspect that we have to work on more. In football, talent isn't enough, putting out 11 individuals isn't enough. You need a group. You have to roll up your sleeves, fight, run, show for your teammate and help out defensively. These were friendlies, but we know that in competition, it won't work."

"These young players have lots of talent, but there is a line not to cross. That's to be self-satisfied and nonchalant on the pitch. You have to be attentive and give more for the team. Those players are able pull teams apart, but you have to put in the effort -- not for yourself but for the team."

With Real Madrid's Raphael Varane nursing an injury, Koscielny won his 51st cap in Tuesday's friendly in St. Petersburg.

He remains optimistic that France will pull together before facing Australia in their opening Group C fixture in Kazan on June 16.

Laurent Koscielny, right, has urged his France teammates to come together and improve ahead of the World Cup.

"They're youngsters who listen closely to the experienced players," Koscielny said. "They're intelligent. They know there are lines not to cross. They know they have to give more for the squad if we want to do something in a match or in a competition. They know they have to do a lot more for the team.

"I'm not worried. It's also good to lose matches and to get a little wake-up call, because sometimes, when you string wins together, you rest on your laurels. It'll be good for everyone to get back to work. We have a quality squad, the question is whether we are able to fight more for the team. There is still time to work, refine the system and be ready for our first World Cup game."

Koscielny looks set to be France's third-choice centre-back with Varane likely to be paired with Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti if both players are fit.

He has had his injury problems this season, but said practicing yoga since January has helped, notably with a long-standing Achilles problem.

"I feel a lot better physically," Koscielny said. "My tendons don't hurt any more, I'm more relaxed and positive. I've found a way to get away from football.

"I was a little reticent at first, but there are a lot of areas which have helped me relax and be a lot more positive in terms of football and also my everyday life."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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