France national team coach Didier Deschamps has expressed his sympathy for veteran striker Karim Benzema, who has been forced out of the World Cup after tearing a muscle in his left thigh on Saturday.
The 34-year-old Ballon D’Or winner, who didn’t form part of the triumphant French squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, flew back to Madrid on Sunday morning after a scan confirmed the extent of the injury, meaning his last chance of playing in the finals has now vanished, reports Xinhua.
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“I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective,” said Deschamps, who tried to remain upbeat.
“Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us,” he said.
France has been hit badly by injuries in the run-up to Qatar, with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante both out, with Pogba failing to recover from a knee operation, while Kante has not recovered from a hamstring injury.
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Meanwhile, forward Christopher Nkunku was injured last Tuesday and replaced by Kolo Muani, while Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to get over a hamstring problem, and Raphael Varane is still a doubt for Tuesday’s game against Australia.
Benzema posted on Instagram: “I have never given up but tonight I have to think about the team, as I have always done, so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group make a good World Cup.”
Deschamps has said he won’t call up a replacement for Benzema, telling the TV show Telefoot that he didn’t need one. “This is a quality group: I have confidence in them in everything they do, both on and off the pitch. They are united.”
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