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Some who could benefit should 'Le President' opt for great changes...

When rumours surfaced that Laurent Blanc could be prepared to axe all 23 of the players named in France’s World Cup squad from the national team, for his debut friendly against Norway at least, it’s fair to say a few eyebrows were raised.

But tellingly, there was no outcry, indicative of a nation still angry with the unprofessional and unpatriotic behaviour of their country’s ‘superstars’ during a farcical trip to South Africa. When the French football federation gave their blessing to the move on Friday, it underlined the continued anger at what went on this summer under former boss Raymond Domenech.

Given the parameters Blanc has set himself, just what might be the composition of the France squad that travels to face Norway on August 11?

Goalkeepers


An outcast from les Bleus under Raymond Domenech, it would seem likely that Sebastien Frey will be one of the first players convened by Blanc, while Lille’s Mickael Landreau, who made the 30-man provisional squad for South Africa, should be another name called forth.

The third shot-stopper might be in-form Monaco man Sebastien Ruffier — though he was present when the players went on strike at the World Cup and may be tarred as the ‘24th player’, despite playing no apparent role in proceedings that day. Otherwise, Auxerre’s Olivier Sorin had a formidable record last season.

Defence

There is an abundance of exciting full-backs in France, so the loss of Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra will be surprisingly brushed off. Girondins de Bordeaux pair Matthieu Chalme and Benoit Tremoulinas will surely both be called, with the latter battling Aly Cissoko for the left-back berth. Additionally, Atletico Madrid target Rod Fanni could challenge for a spot on the right of the defence.

In the centre of defence there is depth, but it is not of the same quality. Philippe Mexes would surely be the first name on the teamsheet, and he could be joined by the likes of Julien Escude, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Michael Ciani and Adil Rami. Even youngster Mamadou Sakho is pushing towards this level.

Midfield

Equally, the midfield provides a competitive battleground, emphasising that no one in the squad should take their position for granted. In the anchoring roles, Lassana Diarra, who only missed out on the South Africa squad due to injury, should form the energetic presence in front of the defence. There are a number of players who could legitimately partner him.

Arguably the best from a defensive viewpoint would be Toulouse’s Etienne Capoue, though teenager Yann M’Vila was preferred by Domenech to be named in the 30-man provisional unit.

For a more energetic box-to-box presence, look no further than Moussa Sissoko, who, at 20 years old, already has international experience and continues to attract covetous glances from some of Europe’s largest sides. Or, if a more refined player is what’s desired, Benoit Cheyrou would be a fine selection.

Further up the field, Benoit Pedretti, who was outstanding for Auxerre last season but who has been in the international wilderness for five years, could be a candidate for the No.10 role, though Samir Nasri is the obvious player for that spot.

Wide on the right, Loic Remy deserves recognition for his exploits with Nice over the last couple of years, though he could be hampered by the drawn-out process of his move from les Aiglons to the Premier League. Jimmy Briand, who moved to Lyon from Rennes earlier this season, should be considered sufficient back-up.

Replacing Franck Ribery on the left is perhaps a little more problematic. Hatem Ben Arfa should certainly be considered a candidate, while France’s other outstanding left-sided players are a little on the young side. Saint-Etienne’s Dimitri Payet was one of the few Verts to impress regularly last season but is perhaps not quite at international level, while Franck Tabanou and Karim Ait-Fana would have to take a big step up from the Under-21 side.

Attack

The sole attacking position would logically go to Karim Benzema, but events off the field in recent days may render him unavailable for the national side in early August, posing Blanc some questions.

The top-scoring Frenchman in Ligue 1 last season, Kevin Gameiro, certainly deserves a crack at the very top level as he has been superb over the last two campaigns.

Louis Saha, when fit, remains a potent force and would be an excellent selection, while Bafetimbi Gomis would likely become third choice almost by default.

So despite the self-imposed cull, France should still be able to field an impressive unit — and at the same time allow Blanc to cast his eye over several of his fringe players, buying him valuable time as he makes the tricky decision about how to cope with the rebellious and disunited squad.

Now is the time to give youth a chance and find out who can sink or swim. Here’s Goal.com’s XI:

Ruffier

Chalme   Mexes   Rami   Cissokho

L. Diarra   Sissoko

Remy   Nasri   Ben Arfa

Gameiro

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