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Aug 5, 2010

Benzema recalled to Blanc's first squad

Laurent Blanc has named his first France squad, minus all 23 shamed World Cup players, and has handed a recall to Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

• Blanc: We have a crazy generation

Benzema was one of the big names left out of the World Cup by Raymond Donemech. Newcastle United target Hatem Ben Arfa, of Marseille, and Lassana Diarra, who missed the finals through injury, are also named in the party to face Norway next week.

Blanc had already announced that he would be imposing a one-match ban on all the players who travelled to South Africa, and who staged a training ground strike before the final group game against the hosts.

Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia is one of a host of players to win their first call-up, while Arsenal's Samir Nasri is back. Loic Remy, set to move to the Premier League, also stands to make his first senior international appearance.

Either Nicolas Douchez or Stephane Ruffier will play in goal for the first time, while Aly Cissokho, Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Mamadou Sakho and Benoit Tremoulinas feature in an inexperienced defence in which only Menez's club-mate Philippe Mexes (13 caps) and Rennes' Rod Fanni (four) have played for their country before.

Lille's Yohan Cabaye, St Etienne duo Blaise Matuidi and Yann Mvila and Toulouse's Moussa Sissoko join N'Zogbia in the midfield running and PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau completes the uncapped contingent.

Squad: Nicolas Douchez (Rennes), Stephane Ruffier (Monaco); Aly Cissokho (Lyon), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Rod Fanni (Rennes), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (Paris St Germain), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux); Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Blaise Matuidi (St Etienne), Yann Mvila (Rennes), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan), Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse); Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Jimmy Briand (Lyon), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris St Germain), Jeremy Menez (Roma), Loic Remy (Nice).

  • Blanc: We have a crazy generation

    Laurent Blanc has had his say on the players called up to face Norway, and says that Roma youngster Jeremy Menez leads a talented group of young players looking to make their impact.

    ''He is part of a crazy generation,'' Blanc said. ''He is very talented. We have seen that at Sochaux and Monaco. He had a problem with consistency, but he is much better now. His coach is very happy with what he offers offensively and to the team. He has improved, so he is a player to watch closely.''

    Blanc also had words of praise for Paris St Germain defender Mamadou Sakho.

    ''Defence is a very important area,'' he said. ''The base of a team is often defensive, particularly the centre. Mamadou Sakho is a boy with potential. He starts regularly with a big club and his other quality is being left-footed. It is not easy to find that.''

    The coach shrugged off allegations surrounding Real Madrid forward Benzema's private life, and is determined merely to help him rediscover his best form - along with Mexes, who has failed to establish himself with Les Bleus despite impressive displays for Roma.

    ''Karim, like others, can play an integral part in the France team,'' said Blanc. ''He has quality and shows it when he feels like it. His private life is none of my concern. I will take sporting decisions.

    ''Everyone knows what (Mexes) is capable of. He is a very good central defender but there is a difference between what he shows in Serie A and with the national team. We must now make sure he steps up. His performances have not been international class but I hope they will be in the future.''

    However, the door is not closed to those in the World Cup squad, as he concluded: ''It is not decisively over. They are not banned or struck off the list. But if we want to rebuild we must give hope to the youngsters.''

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