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By ESPN Staff

Wenger hails Clichy call to France squad

Arsenal defender Gael Clichy has paid tribute to his manager Arsene Wenger after receiving his long-awaited maiden call-up to the France squad. The 22-year-old was one of three left-backs selected by Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech yesterday for next week's friendly double-header against DR Congo and Spain. Clichy, who is likely to feature in the `A' international against Congo in Marbella on Tuesday, has been a regular starter for the Gunners since Ashley Cole moved to Chelsea in August 2006. He is enjoying a superb season and has thanked Wenger for putting faith in him. 'The work I have put in over the past few years is starting to pay dividends,' he said. 'It is thanks to Arsene Wenger, who has always believed in me. I owe him a lot and I hope to take the confidence I have built up into the France team.' Clichy was shocked to receive the call-up, even though he admitted he had been waiting for it for a while. 'It is obviously a big surprise, even if people have spoken about it for a long time,' he added. 'I was more and more expectant at the time of each squad selection and I was starting to drive myself to despair. 'There is a mixture of joy, emotion and pride. And I can't wait to join up with the squad, put on the blue jersey and play against Spain or Congo. 'I hope to be part of the squad long term.'