Nasri axed from France squad

Samir Nasri (AFP)
Samir Nasri (AFP)

Paris - France coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday announced a 24 player squad for the upcoming friendly against the Netherlands on March 5 as their World Cup preparation moves into the final stretch.

Deschamps handed debut call-ups to Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann and Paris Saint-Germain defender Lucas Digne while Manchester City playmaker Samir Nasri and Monaco defender Eric Abidal were omitted for the sold-out fixture.

"I want to inform you that the match is a complete sell-out which in these times is good news," said Deschamps.

Griezmann's inclusion was expected after a dazzling season in La Liga that has seen him plunder 15 goals and puts him in the frame for the upcoming World Cup in June.

One striker certain to be on the plane to Brazil is Karim Benzema who scored twice on Wednesday during Real Madrid's 6-1 first-leg thumping of Schalke in Champion League last-16 action.

"Karim has been on great form for several weeks and he plays for a team that is very healthy at the moment," said Deschamps.

"He does some very good things in play, has a lot of energy and pep as well as great technical skills.

"Benzema was effective in November with us and he has repeated those performances with his club," added Deschamps.

Digne who plays at left-back for the Ligue 1 leaders, and helped France win the under-20 World Cup, was preferred to City's Gael Clichy as cover for Manchester United veteran Patrice Evra.

As for Nasri, his recovery from a serious knee injury put doubts in Deschamps' thinking and the former Arsenal and Marseille midfielder is now in danger of missing a second straight World Cup.

Star players Hugo Lloris, Franck Ribery, Benzema, Yohan Cabaye and Paul Pogba were all included for the final friendly before France embark on their final World Cup training programme on May 19.

France are in Group E and open their World Cup campaign against Honduras on June 15 in Porto Alegre before matches against Switzerland and Ecuador.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne)

Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle/ENG), Lucas Digne (Paris SG), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto/POR), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool/ENG), Raphal Varane (Real Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Paris SG), Blaise Matuidi (Paris SG), Clement Grenier (Lyon), Paul Pogba (Juventus/ITA), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle/ENG), Rio Mavuba (Lille)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER), Loic Remy (Newcastle/ENG), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad/ESP)

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