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Aug 21, 2013

Andre-Pierre Gignac backed for recall

Former France coach Raymond Domenech has praised the early season form of Andre-Pierre Gignac as the Marseille striker pushes for an international recall.

Gignac celebrates scoring for France.
Gignac is looking to work his way back into the France side.

Domenech gave Gignac the first and last of his 16 caps during his six-year tenure at the head of the French national team.

Since the last of those appearances, which came during France's ill-fated and infamous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, the powerfully-built forward has been snubbed by Domenech's successor, Laurent Blanc, and his replacement Didier Deschamps.

However, following a return of two goals from two shots on target in OM's opening pair of league victories, including a brilliant individual effort against Evian last weekend, Gignac's case to be included in Deschamps' squad for upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Belarus is a strong one, particularly with Karim Benzema enduring a year-long international goal drought.

His arguments were reinforced by Domenech in an interview with La Provence: "At the moment, few players have his sense of self-sacrifice. For me, he's in contention for a call-up. He has the ability to be there. It's up to Didier to decide.

"He's got real potential. He likes to go deep and get in the faces of defenders. I saw him [in Marseille's opening-day win] at Guingamp. He has made great strides forward in terms of tactics and technique, in his play with his back to goal and in retaining possession. He knows when to turn towards goal and when to play for time to be able to bring in a team-mate. What more do you want?"

Ligue 1's leading scorer with 24 goals in the 2008-09 season, Gignac found the net just 17 times in the following three campaigns, the latter two of which coincided with Deschamps' spell in charge at the Stade Velodrome.

A well-publicised trip to the Italian spa of Merano to trim excess weight in summer 2011 did little to help, but the ex-Lorient man enjoyed a renaissance under Elie Baup last season, scoring 13 goals to help OM finish runners-up behind Paris Saint-Germain.

The summer addition of Dimitri Payet, who has three league goals already, has helped ease the burden of responsibility on Gignac's shoulders, which OM legend Jean-Pierre Papin believes has helped the striker recapture his best form.

"His movement is good, he's clinical when he has to be, he's there in the right place at the right time," the former European Footballer of the Year, who forged his reputation as a formidable goalscorer at OM between 1986 and 1992, told La Provence. "Now, he's not alone either. There are other players who play for him, and that can make all the difference."

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