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Varane returns for France; Lacazette and Fekir recalled

Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir have been recalled to the France squad as the Euro 2016 runners-up begin their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Belarus next month.

Varane returns for France; Lacazette and Fekir recalled
Alberto Morante EFE

Olympique Lyonnais duo Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir have been recalled to the France squad as the Euro 2016 runners-up begin their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Belarus next month.

Lacazette was not included by coach Didier Deschamps for this summer's Euros despite finishing last season in prolific form but he could no longer be ignored after netting five times in Lyon's opening two Ligue 1 matches this season.

Fekir has not played for France since suffering a serious knee injury in a friendly in Portugal almost a year ago. “He is not at his best yet, like before his injury, but I think he has been playing well”, said Deschamps of his decision to recall Fekir, France's young player of the year in 2014/15.

There are a total of seven changes to the France squad from that which lost to lost to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris is injured which opens the door to PSG's Alphonse Areola. Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin, Lyon's Christophe Jallet and Manchester City pair Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna have been dropped while injury rules out Bayern forward, Kingsley Coman.

The most notable absence is that of Patrice Evra, the 35-year-old left-back who has won a total of 80 caps. Full-backs Layvin Kurzawa, Djibril Sidibe and Sebastien Corchia are all included, though, and Real Madrid centre-back Raphaël Varane is back after injury ruled him out of the Euros.

Of Evra's absence, Deschamps said: “I need to look forward to a World Cup that will be held in two years. He has his age. It's up to him to maintain the same level of performance he has now. But I thought it was important to give playing time and responsibility to younger players”.

Didier Deschamps at the FFF headquarters in Paris today.

Les Bleus will face Italy in a friendly in Bari on 1 September before travelling to take on Belarus in Borisov in their opening World Cup qualifier on Tuesday 6th. France feature alongside Holland, Sweden, Bulgaria and Luxembourg in Group A.

France squad to face Italy and Belarus:

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Benoit Costil (Rennes), Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace)

Defenders: Sebastien Corchia (Lille), Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Layvin Kurzawa (Paris Saint-Germain), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United)

Forwards: Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Anthony Martial (Manchester United)