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Everton on the cusp of Europa progress

Everton about an hour ago
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By ESPN Staff
Dec 15, 2006

Struggling Nantes set to call on Barthez and Blanc

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Struggling Ligue 1 side Nantes could turn to both Fabien Barthez and his former France and Manchester United team mate Laurent Blanc in their attempt to escape relegation.

Goalkeeper Barthez, 35, was expected to come out of retirement by signing a six-month deal with the club later on Friday, a source close to the player said.

Blanc, like Barthez a prominent figure of France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad, could also come to Nantes's rescue, as coach, French sports daily L'Equipe reported on Friday.

The 41-year-old Blanc, who has no coaching experience, should be appointed during the winter break starting on Dec. 23, L'Equipe wrote.

Nantes, lying second from bottom in the Ligue 1 standings, were unavailable for immediate comment.

The ritual good-luck kiss from Blanc on Barthez's bald head before kick-off during France's triumpant World Cup campaign became one of the tournament's abiding memories.