Lloris backs Mbappe to step up in 'big moments'

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The goalkeeper defended his France team-mate as Didier Deschamps' men look to seal a World Cup place

France captain Hugo Lloris backed Kylian Mbappe, saying the talented forward could still make the difference for his nation.

Ahead of hosting Belarus on Tuesday, France are a point clear atop Group A and a win away from qualifying for the World Cup.

France 9/2 to beat Belarus 4-0

Mbappe, 18, started for just the second time this qualifying campaign in the 1-0 victory over Bulgaria and was unable to have a major impact.

But Lloris backed the teenage forward, who has scored three goals in six games for Paris Saint-Germain this season.

"Mbappe needs to keep up with the French team. It's hard to judge a player's performance in the game against Bulgaria," the Tottenham goalkeeper said.

"It was more of a fight. It's hard to talk about the performance of a single player. The team fought, and we were in the duel and we won this game in a difficult way.

"Kylian should not be held entirely responsible. He's a young player, even if he's very talented.

"He still has time to make the next steps. He can rely on his talent because he is able to make a difference in the big moments."

France head coach Didier Deschamps rallied his team, reminding them the World Cup was the pinnacle.

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"Players can play at the highest level in the biggest clubs, but there is nothing more beautiful than playing a World Cup. It's a global event for professional players," he said.

"The World Cup is the must-have. Sometimes you look at it in front of the TV. I watched two of them on TV.

"And I played a World Cup but we didn't need to qualify because it was at home."

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