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Oct 4, 2011

Ribery and Matuidi ruled out

France's problems have increased ahead of their deciding European Championship qualifying double-header with Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina with Franck Ribery and Blaise Matuidi the latest to be forced out of the squad.

• Benzema out of qualifiers
• Zidane open to coaching France
• Gomis earns France recall

Coach Laurent Blanc had already lost Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema on Monday when it was confirmed he would be out of action for two weeks with a thigh injury. And Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna underwent successful surgery on a broken leg suffered in the North London derby at Tottenham. Paris St Germain's Kevin Gameiro is also ruled out.

Now the loss of Ribery, who has problems affecting both legs, and Matuidi, who is struggling with a left thigh problem, means his options are further limited.

France face Albania on Friday needing a victory before hosting Bosnia-Herzegovina in what is likely to be an qualifying play-off. The two nations are a point apart and if both win on Friday then France will have to avoid defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Paris to book their place in the finals without a play-off.

A statement on the French federation's official website read: "Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Blaise Matuidi showed up on Monday morning to visit the team at Clairefontaine France and were immediately subjected to an examination by Dr Fabrice Bryand.

"The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans confirmed that none of these three players would be able to play in the Euro 2012 matches against Albania or Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Stade de France.

"Karim Benzema (left adductor injury), Franck Ribery (injury to both legs) and Blaise Matuidi (pain in his posterior thigh) were placed at the disposal of their clubs and left the technical centre Fernand-Sastre in the afternoon or evening.

"As of 8.45pm (on Monday night), Laurent Blanc had not yet made a decision on whether to call up one or more players.''

Meanwhile, Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis believes he is now at the right level of maturity to become a France regular after his false start three years ago. Gomis was surprisingly drafted into the squad for the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland but did not manage to establish himself with Les Bleus.

"I stand ready,'' Gomis told L'Equipe. "I think this is the role of all the strikers who are here. If they have been called in to play, it is because we have quality and also the confidence of the coach.

"(Me,) Kevin and Loic, we are three players with different profiles. We have a competent coach who knows his group. It will be the best composition possible. I am at an age now where it is important to acquire maturity - and patience.

"There were very hard times when I was far from the level I needed to be at to reach my aim to return for France. I had to move out of this wilderness to circle back and work step by step. I'm glad to find my way back to the castle.

"This selection coincides with my best shape for two years. It's logical to have been asked now and not before. If I had been called up last year, my selection would probably have been a matter for debate. But this is not the end and now I must not drop below this level.

"After Euro 2008, maybe I made a bad choice. I should have left for a more important club - without denigrating St Etienne - and work with players on another level.''

France coach Laurent Blanc is adamant he will go for one up front despite the loss of Benzema. He has brought in Djibril Cisse as cover for Benzema and Gameiro, while Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu comes in with Sagna ruled out and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal doubtful.

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