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Injured French Face Questions Against England

Fabio Capello's England will be near full strength for Wednesday's friendly at the Stade de France, but France coach Raymond Domenech is faced with an injury list a mile long. The most notable absentee, perhaps, is Lyon striker Karim Benzema, who was carried off over the weekend against Paris Saint-Germain. Veterans Thierry Henry of Barcelona and Patrick Vieira of Inter Milan will also miss the Euro 2008 tune-up, as will Manchester United's Louis Saha, Arsenal's Bacary Sagna, Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena and Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey.

Ben Lyttleton, The Guardian's Ligue 1 correspondent, says that Domenech has more questions than answers ahead of him as France prepares for Austria and Switzerland this summer. Les Bleus may be one of the pre-tournament favorites, but several things -- including the form of some of its players -- have changed since France qualified for the finals last fall. Among them is the bizarre disappearance of national team regular Florent Malouda from Chelsea coach Avram Grant's plans. Malouda has had injury problems this season, but he's failed to make the bench for most of Chelsea's games since returning several weeks ago.

Another question is whether to play veterans Lilian Thuram and Thierry Henry, who've been a shadow of their former selves at Barcelona. Thuram, a defender, looks noticeably off the pace at 36, while Henry's form has been indifferent for most the season. The French press, meanwhile, is calling for Benzema, Nicolas Anelka, Djibril Cisse and the resurgent David Trezeguet to all start ahead of the lackluster Henry.

Read the whole story at The Guardian »

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