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Real escape with hope of progress

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By ESPN Staff

Domenech decides against Malouda replacement

France coach Raymond Domenech will not bring in a replacement for the injured Florent Malouda ahead of Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Ukraine.

Chelsea winger Malouda, who has been struggling with a knee problem, left the Les Bleus squad yesterday and has returned to London.

With Wednesday's clash in Kiev now a dead rubber as France have already qualified for next summer's tournament, Malouda has not been risked.

Domenech has announced that he will not be drafting in another midfielder as cover, so rising Lyon star Hatem Ben Arfa and Paris St Germain's Jerome Rothen look to be vying for the left-wing berth.

Left-back Patrice Evra could also be pushed forward into an advanced role - he has played in midfield for Manchester United this season - but Ben Arfa's superb recent form should mean he gets the nod.

Barcelona's veteran centre-back Lilian Thuram and Arsenal midfield anchorman Mathieu Flamini missed training yesterday but they will be ready for Ukraine, according to Domenech.

'Everybody is fit except for Florent Malouda, who has left the training camp,' he said.

France are second in Group B, but secured their passage into the Euros on Saturday without kicking a ball, by virtue of Italy's 2-1 win in Scotland.