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French striker Gignac earns first cap for 'Les Bleus'

Latest update : 2009-03-19

French team coach Raymond Domenech awarded Andre-Pierre Gignac a first call-up for the World Cup qualification match against Lithuania. The Toulouse striker is the French league's top scorer.

AFP - France coach Raymond Domenech on Thursday left out-of-form captain Patrick Vieira out of his squad for the crucial World Cup double header against Lithuania.
  
Domenech awarded a first call-up to the French league's top scorer, Andre-Pierre Gignac, who looks to be promised some action in either Les Bleus match in Kaunas on March 28 or the Stade de France encounter on April 1.
  
While Gignac's inclusion has won the Toulouse forward wide plaudits, the pre-selection questions on whether Vieria would be called up are now answered.
  
Vieira only recently returned to action for Inter after a spell on the sidelines with an Achilles tendon problem.
  
But it appears the Frenchman's bitter Euro 2008 experience, which was said to prey heavily on the squad prior to their early exit from the tournament, has left its mark on Domenech.
  
Asked whether Vieira's forced exit from last summer's tournament was a factor, Domenech said it had certainly proved helpful as an experience.
  
"We must learn from all experiences. And you have to go on and improve on them each time," said the French coach.
  
"I've had a talk with Pat (Vieira). He knows he's not in top form, he hasn't played much.
  
"The day he comes back, he will regain the captain's armband from Thierry Henry."
  
Gignac, meanwhile, has been rewarded for his goal-scoring exploits at Toulouse with the fifth spot in Domenech's pool of strikers.
  
The 23-year-old leads the French division scoring charts with 17 goals and he has been selected ahead of Paris St-Germain's in-form hitman Guillaume Hoarau, who has netted 15 times.
  
"How he performs for France will show whether we've made the right decision or not. But I prefer that there's competition for places up front," added Domenech.
  
Domenech stopped short of saying whether Barcelona forward Thierry Henry would be moved back into a more central position.
  
"It's an option. I have a lot of players who can play on the left: Karim (Benzema), Nico (Anelka), Jimmy (Briand), Titi (Henry), Franck (Ribery), Samir (Nasri) who do it from time to time," added Domenech.
  
"We just have to find our central forward."
  
Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and Lille's Adil Rami both return to the squad, with fellow defenders Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Jean-Alain Boumsong (Lyon) and Julien Escude (Sevilla) all ruled out by injury.
  
France currently lie third in European qualifying group seven and Domenech is under pressure to secure their qualification after overseeing a meek group-stage exit at Euro 2008.
  
The 1998 World Cup winners have just one win to show from their first three matches - a 2-1 victory at home to Serbia - having suffered a shock 3-1 defeat in Austria and fought back to draw 2-2 in Romania.
  
They trail Serbia and Lithuania by four points but have a game in hand on both.
  

  
Squad
  
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Toulouse)
  
Defenders: Gael Clichy (Arsenal/ENG), Rod Fanni (Rennes), William Gallas (Arsenal/ENG), Philippe Mexes (Roma/ITA), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla/ESP), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Adil Rami (Lille)
  
Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ENG), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon), Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ENG), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER)
  
Forwards: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea/ENG), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Thierry Henry (Barcelona/ESP), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse)

Date created : 2009-03-19

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