PARIS - France coach Laurent Blanc
recalled World Cup rebels Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery to his
squad on Thursday for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifier in
Luxembourg against the wishes of the country's sports minister.
Captain Evra was banned for five games and Ribery for three
after France players refused to train during last year's
ill-fated World Cup campaign when now-banished striker Nicolas
Anelka was sent home for insulting former coach Raymond
Blanc resisted the temptation to recall Evra for last
month's friendly win over Brazil despite his suspension having
expired but with fellow left-back Eric Abidal having surgery on
a liver tumour, Evra has now got his chance.
Ribery was previously injured when his ban ended.
Before the squad list was issued, Sports Minister Chantal
Jouanno reiterated her wish that the pair remain excluded.
"I maintain (my stance). Nothing has changed really. There
was no apology, no mea culpa," she told reporters on a visit to
the France national rugby centre at Marcoussis.
Blanc, who plans to have a special chat with Evra, hit back
in a news conference.
"I make choices based on sporting criteria. I am only
accountable to the president of the French Football Federation,"
"They had a certain status in the France team because of
their experience. They need humility to return to the group with
the same status as everyone else. (If not) I will be
uncompromising and will not hesitate to take radical action."
MUST BE IRREPROACHABLE
In-form France, who top Euro 2012 qualifying Group D, visit
neighbours Luxembourg on March 25 before hosting Croatia at the
Stade de France four days later in a friendly.
Manchester United left back Evra is not expected to regain
the captaincy with Ribery, in good form for Bayern Munich after
overcoming a series of niggles, also unlikely to be a candidate.
"I have been very clear with him. State of mind will also be
a criteria for selection. He must be irreproachable like the
others," Blanc added of Ribery.
The squad contained no other surprises with Arsenal
midfielder Samir Nasri back after missing the Brazil win with
injury and team mate Laurent Koscielny retaining his place
having received his first call-up last month.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon), Steve Mandanda
(Olympique Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux).
Defenders: Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Gael Clichy (Arsenal),
Philippe Mexes (AS Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho
(Paris St Germain), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Patrice Evra
(Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).
Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Abou Diaby (Arsenal),
Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Yann M'Vila (Stade Rennes), Samir Nasri
(Arsenal), Florent Malouda (Chelsea).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (FC
Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Jeremy Menez (Roma), Franck
Ribery (Bayern Munich), Loic Remy (Marseille)
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