Soccer-Giroud named in provisional France World Cup squad

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v West Ham United - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - August 28, 2022 West Ham United's Alphonse Areola during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

PARIS (Reuters) -Olivier Giroud was named in France's provisional squad for the Qatar World Cup as coach Didier Deschamps unveiled a 25-man group on Wednesday amid injury concerns for the defending champions.

The experienced striker, recalled in March after a nine-month hiatus following the team's early Euro 2021 exit, has been in good form for AC Milan and France and is two goals shy of Thierry Henry's all-time national scoring record of 51 goals.

"He knows where he stands. He knows what my position is. It's better for the French team that he is with us," said Deschamps, who will have to trim his squad to 23 by Monday.

Several players have been struggling with injuries, including Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema, Paris St Germain centre back Presnel Kimpembe and Manchester United defender Raphael Varane.

"I know he (Benzema) will do everything to be at 100 percent in time," said Deschamps.

With Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante injured and ruled out of the tournament ahead of the squad announcement, Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot and Eduardo Camavinga were among the six midfielders named.

Up front, Kylian Mbappe was named along with Giroud, Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Christopher Nkunku.

In defence, Deschamps omitted the in-form Jonathan Clauss, an indication that he might opt for a four-man set-up at the back as the Olympique de Marseille player is a pure wing back, ideally suited for a 3-5-2 formation.

Deschamps surprisingly omitted Lucas Digne and Ferland Mendy, leaving the squad short of left backs, while AC Milan keeper Mike Maignan was left out because of a leg muscle injury.

France will be in Group D in Qatar with Australia, Denmark and Tunisia.

They start their campaign against Australia on Nov. 22 at the Al Janoub Stadium.

"I made a few players unhappy tonight and 25 are super happy, but I know that as soon as we meet up they will all want to be in the starting 11," said Deschamps, who hopes France will be the first nation to retain the World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, despite a dismal Nations League campaign.

"I don't care about bad statistics. We're not in the best position but we know what we are capable of. However, let's first go through the first round before setting any goals."


Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout

Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)

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