France coach Didier Deschamps
included Raphael Varane in his World Cup squad on Wednesday despite the defender's recent injury problems, while 36-year-old striker Olivier Giroud
was also called up.
Deschamps selected 25 of a possible 26 players for the tournament in Qatar, where France will attempt to become the first team to defend their World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.
Eleven members of the 2018 title-winning squad return, including captain Hugo Lloris
and reserve goalkeeper Steve Mandanda
, along with Kylian Mbappe
and Antoine Griezmann
Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema
, who has missed a series of games for Real Madrid this season because of injury, is set for his first World Cup appearance since 2014.
Benzema was frozen out of the France team for five-and-a-half years due to his role in a blackmail scandal involving a sextape and his international teammate Mathieu Valbuena
He was convicted for his role in that affair last year but by then he had returned to Les Bleus, playing at Euro 2020 and in the team that won the UEFA Nations League.
Giroud is two goals away from equaling Thierry Henry
's national record of 51 but has often been overlooked since Benzema's recall.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea forward, now with AC Milan, would become France's oldest outfield player at a World Cup.
"You know tonight, I made some people unhappy. I am well aware of that," Deschamps told TF1. "I made 25 players happy, but they will... all want to be in the starting 11. But it won't be possible, but it's the strength of the group that will be more important."
Paris Saint-Germain center-back Presnel Kimpembe
was picked despite thigh and Achilles problems that have limited him to five appearances since the start of September.
Varane will have gone a month without playing by the time Les Bleus meet Australia in their opening game of the World Cup on Nov. 22.
"The two cases are different," said Deschamps. "Kimpembe has had a little worry but he'll be available for his club for the last league match on Sunday. Varane has a longer-term injury but he too could be available against Australia if everything goes well."
Deschamps has plenty of cover in central defense with William Saliba
, Dayot Upamecano
, Jules Kounde
and Ibrahima Konate
in the squad. Benjamin Pavard
and Lucas Hernandez
can also fill in there.
Mandanda, 37, took the place of AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan
, who has been hampered by a calf injury.
France are without first-choice midfield pair Paul Pogba
and N'Golo Kante
, leaving Aurelien Tchouameni
and Adrien Rabiot
as the probable starters.
They will be supported by Monaco's Youssouf Fofana
, Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga
and Marseille duo Jordan Veretout
and Matteo Guendouzi
. France Roster:
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Rennes/FRA), Alphonse Areola (West Ham United/ENG) Defenders:
Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/GER), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Raphael Varane (Manchester United/ENG), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER) Midfielders:
Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid/ESP), Jordan Veretout (Marseille) Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/GER) mw/nr
© Agence France-Presse