France coach Raymond Domenech has turned to a number of young players to replace established stars for the UEFA EURO 2008™ Group B game in Lithuania on 24 March.
Deprived of strikers Thierry Henry and Louis Saha due to hamstring and groin injuries - the former will not play again this season and will only return to training in July - Domenech has included AS Monaco FC forward Frédéric Piquionne, 28, for the first time while there is a second call-up for 19-year-old Karim Benzema of Olympique Lyonnais, who is still waiting to win his first cap. In midfield, foot and thigh problems rule out Franck Ribéry and Patrick Vieira so at least one Diarra was expected to be selected; in the event, Lyon's Alou - who appeared in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final - has been overlooked in favour of Chelsea FC's Lassana Diarra, who could link up with club-mate Claude Makelele in Kaunas.
Arsenal FC midfielder Abou Diaby is also involved for the first time, while the defence has a more settled look after William Gallas and Lilian Thuram recovered their fitness. Mikaël Silvestre is missing, however, having dislocated his shoulder in Manchester United FC's UEFA Champions League defeat of LOSC Lille Métropole. The 23-man squad will also take on UEFA EURO 2008™ co-hosts Austria in Paris on 28 March. Domenech is likely to release players from Lyon and FC Girondins de Bordeaux for that game as those teams meet in the French League Cup final three days later.
Goalkeepers: Grégory Coupet (Olympique Lyonnais), Mickaël Landreau (Paris Saint-Germain FC).
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Olympique Lyonnais), François Clerc (Olympique Lyonnais), Julien Escudé (Sevilla FC), William Gallas (Arsenal FC), Philippe Mexes (AS Roma), Willy Sagnol (FC Bayern München), Sébastien Squillaci (Olympique Lyonnais), Lilian Thuram (FC Barcelona).
Midfielders: Abou Diaby (Arsenal FC), Lassana Diarra (Chelsea FC), Claude Makelele (Chelsea FC), Rio Antonio Mavuba (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Samir Nasri (Olympique de Marseille), Jérémy Toulalan (Lyonnais).
Forwards: Nicolas Anelka (Bolton Wanderers FC), Karim Benzema (Olympique Lyonnais), Djibril Cissé (Olympique de Marseille), Sidney Govou (Olympique Lyonnais), Florent Malouda (Olympique Lyonnais), Frédéric Piquionne (AS Monaco FC), Sylvain Wiltord (Olympique Lyonnais).
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