- Euro 2012 - football - France - Laurent Blanc
Blanc picks France squad for Euro qualifiers
France coach Laurent Blanc has picked his players to take on Romania and Luxembourg in next week's Euro 2012 qualifiers, recalling Arsenal's Samir Nasri and Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff.
AFP - France coach Laurent Blanc on Thursday recalled midfielders Samir Nasri and Yoann Gourcuff to the squad to face Romania and Luxembourg in Euro 2012 qualifiers on October 9 and 12.
Saint-Etienne winger Dimitri Payet, who has scored seven goals since the start of the season, was rewarded for his fine form with a first call-up, but there was no place in the squad for Lyon's Jeremy Toulalan.
"No-one is barred from the France squad," explained Blanc.
"It's up to the players to play well for their clubs, to find the desire and the performances you need to figure for Les Bleus.
"You have to look at the matches since August. I know what Toulalan is capable of bringing but I can't overlook the emergence of those who have played well since August."
Toulalan had been suspended for one match for his role in the World Cup mutiny that followed the sending home of striker Nicolas Anelka after his clash with Blanc's predecessor Raymond Domenech.
Blanc banned the entire 23-man World Cup squad from his first game in charge, a 2-1 defeat by Norway in a friendly on August 11.
Toulalan's ban has now expired while Franck Ribery, banned for three games, and skipper Patrice Evra, banned for five, are not yet back in the fold.
Anelka himself is unlikely to feature for France again after he was banned for 18 matches by the French Football Federation's disciplinary panel.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who did not make the cut for the World Cup, is in the squad despite Blanc telling Thursday's France Soir newspaper that the player is "not used to working," echoing similar criticism from Real coach Jose Mourinho.
Benzema netted the opening goal in France's recent 2-0 win at Bosnia-Hercegovina in their last Euro 2012 qualifier.
It was France's first win since before the World Cup, as they fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Belarus in their opening qualifying match.
Blanc has rotated the captaincy since taking over from Domenech and he said the three players who have already sported the armband -- Philippe Mexes, Florent Malouda and Alou Diarra -- are in contention to do so again in the forthcoming matches.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux)
Defenders: Bakary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexes (Roma/ITA), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Gael Clichy (Arsenal/ENG), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux)
Midfielders: Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ENG), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Yann Mvila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ENG), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ENG)
Forwards: Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loic Remy (Marseille), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)