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Garde: Gourcuff is picked on merit

Lyon manager Remi Garde has denied that he is being forced to select Yoann Gourcuff despite the player failing to live up to his billing as the side's star player.

Gourcuff, 26, has been underwhelming since signing from Bordeaux for €22 million in 2010, and with his poor form not justifying his status as OL's top earner, Garde has had to work to keep his squad united.

After recently returning to the first team after a succession of injuries, Gourcuff scored his first league goal since the opening day of the season in the Rhone derby with Saint-Etienne last weekend, keeping OL ahead of their neighbours in the race for France's third and final Champions League qualifying place and earning himself public praise from Garde.

The OL coach told RMC the French international was in the side on merit and not merely because Garde's hand was being forced by club officials keen to offload the costly playmaker and ease OL's delicate financial position this summer.

Garde said: "We've always talked, Yoann and I. I just let others say what they want about it. If Yoann opens up one day, he'll certainly have things to say. We've never lost communication completely. There are times when it's been more difficult than others, other times when it's been easier. There's not only Yoann in the squad. I force myself to speak to everyone. I've never been told to play him. I don't waste my energy on that."

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