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France boss Didier Deschamps explains Anthony Martial omission as Karim Benzema returns


The United striker has returned to training but still misses out (Pictures: Getty Images)

France boss Didier Deschamps has named his squad for the upcoming European Championship with Karim Benzema making a shock return, though there is no place for Anthony Martial.

The Manchester United forward has been a regular in the side but injured his knee while on international duty at the end of March, with the initial prognosis suggesting he would miss the remainder of the season.

But Martial returned to United training in the past few days and there are even suggestions he could make the squad for the Europa League final in a weeks’ time, on Wednesday May 26.

Martial was spotted back in training with United this week (Picture: Getty)

Despite the 25-year-old nearing a return, Deschamps says he is unwilling to take a risk on a player who has been out of action for two months and will not be bringing him to the Euros.

‘Anthony Martial would have been here but he is not available,’ explained the France boss on Tuesday as he revealed his expanded 26-man squad, with each side getting three extra picks.

‘His condition does not allow it.’

Deschamps added of his squad: ‘I think the squad list a year ago would not have been the one I have today.’

Chief among those differences is the inclusion of Benzema, who has effectively replaced Martial, with the Real Madrid forward returning to the squad for the first time in six years.

The 33-year-old has not featured for his nation since 2015 when he was investigated for his alleged involvement in a sex tape blackmail plot against former France teammate Matthieu Valbuena, with Deschamps furious with Benzema and labelling his actions ‘unacceptable’.

Benzema has 22 goals and 8 assists in La Liga this season (Picture: Getty)

Despite suggesting Benzema would never play for France again while he was in charge, Deschamps performed an unlikely U-turn after a lengthy chat with the Real Madrid star.

‘We met, we spoke at length and I then thought very hard and came to make this decision,’ he explained.

‘I needed this chat, he needed this chat. I don’t want to make this a specific case. As national team boss, I have to always look beyond my personal case. My responsibility is important, but it is bigger than me.’

Nine players from France’s World Cup-winning squad miss out this time around, while the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar and Eduardo Camavinga have also failed to make the cut.


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