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Benzema, Mbappe lead France’s title defence

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KARIM Benzema and Kylian Mbappe headline France head coach,  Didier Deschamps’ squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

 Sources have told ESPN that Benzema’s fitness is not a worry to France staff despite the forward missing Real Madrid’s final games before the World Cup due to muscular fatigue.

  Defending champions, France will take just 10 players from the squad that lifted the title in Russia in 2018, with key midfield stars, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante missing through injury.

  Manchester United defender, Raphael Varane has been selected despite suffering a knee injury last month. Sources have told ESPN that Varane’s rehabilitation is going well though and he could be ready for the opening game against Australia on November 21.

  Forward, Olivier Giroud who is two goals shy of Thierry Henry’s all-time national scoring record of 51 goals, was also included.

Giroud was recalled in March after a nine-month hiatus following the team’s early Euro 2021 exit and has been in good form for AC Milan.

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

  Paris Saint-Germain defender, Presnel Kimpembe who has just returned to training, is also included, as is highly-rated Madrid teenager, Eduardo Camavinga.

Provisional France squad at 2022 World Cup

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.

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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.

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