Lloris, Mexes & Ribery already on the plane, Diarra & Gameiro fighting for a ticket - The 23 players France may be taking to Euro 2012

Goal.com breaks down the squads that the leading contenders for next year's tournament are likely to take to Poland and Ukraine. In this feature, we look at Laurent Blanc's side

By Robin Bairner | French Football Editor

Although Euro 2012 is still three months away, and the main focus currently lies on the various domestic and European competitions, the key preparations for Poland-Ukraine are well underway.

Qualified nations only have a few friendlies remaining before the competition kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw, and each coach will already know the majority of the squad he wishes to take.

Goal.com thus breaks down how Euro 2012's top nations - England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain - are likely to go about selecting their 23-player rosters.

We move through each positional department - goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers - and divide the candidates into 'Definites', 'Probables' and 'Possibles'. Definites are those who are pillars of the team, indispensable and irreplaceable stars who will only miss out on the finals in the most extraordinary of circumstances such as serious injury. For example, Xavi of Spain or Gianluigi Buffon of Italy. Probables are those who are likely to go, but are not so indispensable that they are immune to being cut. Possibles are all the players who are fighting for the last places in the squad that are yet to be determined. Underneath these listed candidates, we then explain in detail the reason for our choices.

Below is a full rundown of how France's 23 places could be taken.

Cedric Carrasso Bordeaux
Hugo Lloris
Steve Mandanda
Stephane Ruffier Saint-Etienne

This is the area of the French side that there is very little debate about, at least in terms of who will travel with the squad to Poland and Ukraine.

A terrific campaign from Steve Mandanda has seen mounting pressure being put on No.1 choice Hugo Lloris, though the decision of Laurent Blanc to hand the Lyon shot-stopper the captaincy surely puts to bed any theory that the Marseille custodian could claim the role right at the last.

Bordeaux’s Cedric Carrasso is quietly enjoying another very strong season and he will travel with the squad as the third choice.

Stephane Ruffier of Saint-Etienne is the man Blanc will fall back on should injury strike any of the top three goalkeepers. He travelled to South Africa to join the squad for the 2010 World Cup, though he was officially denied permission by Fifa to be part of les Bleus’ official party.

Eric Abidal Barcelona
Patrice Evra Manchester United
Philippe Mexes AC Milan
Adil Rami
Mamadou Sakho Paris Saint-Germain
Mathieu Debuchy Lille
Younes Kaboul
Bacary Sagna Arsenal
Gael Clichy Manchester City
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal
Jeremy Mathieu Valencia
Anthony Reveillere Lyon

In the defensive sector, the picture is becoming increasingly clear for France. Blanc has advocated a settled back four throughout his time in charge of his nation, and to that end several areas off his defence can be guaranteed.

Philippe Mexes has overcome his injury problems and will be selected in the heart of the defence alongside Adil Rami, while the coach’s decision to name Eric Abidal as a player to take extra responsibility in the team confirms that the Barcelona veteran will also travel. Abidal can also double up as a centre-back and left-back, but Patrice Evra is now the firm choice in the latter role.

On the right, Bacary Sagna’s place has been put in some doubt by recent injury troubles, which mean he wasn’t in the squad to face Germany. The performance of Mathieu Debuchy against Germany in Bremen means the Arsenal man could be displaced from his habitual starting role as the Lille player was outstanding for les Bleus, claiming two assists and certainly leapfrogging Anthony Reveillere in the pecking order.

Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny and Jeremy Mathieu are all waiting for injuries to colleagues, but Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul should travel as the fourth available centre-back.

Yann M'Vila
Samir Nasri
Manchester City
Franck Ribery
Bayern Munich
Yohan Cabaye Newcastle Utd
Alou Diarra
Florent Malouda
Jeremy Menez Paris Saint-Germain
Mathieu Valbuena Marseille
Florent Balmont Lille
Benoit Cheyrou
Abou Diaby
Maxime Gonalons
Yoann Gourcuff Lyon
Marvin Martin Sochaux
Nene Paris Saint-Germain
Dimitri Payet Lille

In the centre of the park, there are real decisions for the coach to make. Some of these have already been done. For example, Yann M’Vila will travel east in the summer, having been the most-used player in Blanc’s reign so far, despite his tender years. Alou Diarra looks liable to travel too; he’s not had a particularly strong season with Marseille, but he is a favourite of Blanc’s and provides a threat from set pieces.

Yohan Cabaye may not be in the sparkling form he displayed earlier in the campaign with Newcastle, but he may well travel as another dynamic option, stationed ahead of Florent Balmont and Benoit Cheyrou in this pecking order, not to mention the injury-prone Abou Diaby, who has made just one appearance for Arsenal in 2011-12.

Jeremy Toulalan continues to be overlooked completely, while the destroyer's successor at Lyon, Maxime Gonalons, will retain a chance of making the travelling party if his form stays at a high level.

Further forward, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri are guarantees (despite the latter not starting regularly at Manchester City), while Florent Malouda’s experience more than anything is likely to see him in the unit and he also scored against Germany.

Mathieu Valbuena’s excellent relationship with Loic Remy will likely see him in the squad, particularly after some superb displays in recent times, and Jeremy Menez may well go too, simply because he is a potential match winner.

In terms of genuine playmakers, Marvin Martin has been little better than average with struggling Sochaux of late, while Yoann Gourcuff clings to the list largely because of his strong relationship with the coach. Nene is increasingly unlikely to make a dramatic entrance, as the coach has refused to even speak of him.

One man to emerge as a contender is Morgan Amalfitano, who only made his debut on Wednesday night. Despite playing against Germany, his lack of experience counts against him.

Karim Benzema
Real Madrid
Loic Remy Marseille
Kevin Gameiro
Paris Saint-Germain
Olivier Giroud
Bafetimbi Gomis Lyon
Guillaume Hoarau Paris Saint-Germain

The forward line of France has been something of a weakness in recent months, but the continued emergence of Loic Remy as a goalscoring force for Marseille means that the highly-rated attacker will be in the 23-man squad, and he may even have enough in his locker to pip Karim Benzema for the role of centre forward while in Poland and Ukraine. There can be little doubt that the Real Madrid star will be with the squad, though.

Olivier Giroud’s remarkable season with Montpellier makes him a probable choice to travel as a backup, particularly as he has a wide array of skills in his locker and proved himself by getting on the scoresheet against Germany, but Kevin Gameiro’s participation is looking increasingly precarious due to poor form for Paris Saint-Germain.

Going the other way is club-mate Guillaume Hoarau, who is fresh after overcoming injury problems, scoring twice against Lyon last weekend. He may, however, be making his play a little too late.

Bafetimbi Gomis has been a strong performer for OL this term, rediscovering his confidence in front of goal and staking a claim for a berth in the panel four years after flopping at Euro 2008. He’s not a player favoured by Blanc, though, and hence he is as much an outsider as Hoarau.

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