Lassana Diarra succumbs to Alps

[FRANCE] Lassana Diarra, expected to start in midfield for France at the World Cup, is out with an intestinal problem triggered when he and his French teammates climbed to the foot of La Grande Motte glacier in the Alps from its base camp in Tignes and slept in a restaurant at around 9,800 feet in a team-bonding exercise.

He missed practice for the third day in a row after the Wednesday trip and was ordered to rest for 10 days.

Unconfirmed reports say he's suffering from anemia caused by the effects of the high altitude.

The French national team has traditionally traveled to Tignes to prepare for major competitions.

Four years ago, the French players also climbed to the La Grande Motte glacier -- a trip that sparked controversy.

Goalie Gregory Coupet left the team in a huff after fellow keeper Fabien Barthez had refused to participate in the climb.

Coupet returned and Barthez was in goal when France reached the final.

Diarra was hoping a strong World Cup would boost his transfer value. He wants to leave Real Madrid, where he lost his starting job to Spaniard Xabi Alonso.

Diarra was expected to start alongside Jeremy Toulalan as France's two holding midfielders -- a position that has been a strength of the French team for more than a decade.

Coach Raymond Domenech might switch to a 4-3-3 formation with Bordeaux's Yoann Gourcuff and Arsenal's Abou Diaby and Toulalan in midfield.

Domenech had already reduced the French team from 30 to 24 players -- 23 plus uncapped Bordeaux defender Marc Planus, who would go to South Africa if William Gallas wasn't fit.

If Domenech were to add another holding midfielder, it would be 19-year-old Yann M'vila, who is with France's under-21 team in Argentina.

The irony is that Domenech chose to take a reduced roster to Tignes after his experience two years ago when he took 30 players and in what he called "the worst moment of my coaching career," had to knock on hotel room doors of seven players, tell them they were cut and ship them off on a waiting helicopter.

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