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Varane set for France debut

France coach Didier Deschamps has suggested Raphael Varane will make his senior international debut in the coming days following the centre-back's recent performances for Real Madrid.

Always tipped as a major talent, Varane, 19, has now made himself a fixture in the Madrid first team, featuring in the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester United and starring in his club's recent wins over Barcelona.

Called up but not used by Deschamps last summer, Varane has now convinced the Les Bleus boss that he can make the step up from Under-21 level as France prepare for their World Cup qualifiers at home to Georgia and Spain.

"There's always a risk," Deschamps said. "But he has to make his debut some time or another. There is no way to avoid risk. With what he's done with Madrid in recent weeks, I don't have to worry about his performance. This is a different context though - it's the national team. Is he able to take that on? Yes, I think he is."

Varane's emergence gives Deschamps a wealth of youthful talent at centre-back, with the ex-Lens teenager joining Newcastle United's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, 23, and PSG's Mamadou Sakho, 23, in the squad.

However, with the stakes high ahead of the Group I double-header, particularly against Spain next Tuesday, Deschamps may decide to opt for more experience and pick Laurent Koscielny, 27. Quietly impressive in Arsenal's Champions League victory at Bayern Munich last week, the former Lorient defender has no fears about facing up to the challenge posed by his young international team-mates.

"It's good competition. It's going to push me to be better in training and with my club, Arsenal," he said.


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