France may have lost 2-1 to Spain in their UEFA European Under-17 Championship opener but defender Lucas Digne is happy to take the rough with the smooth in his first ever international tournament.
Guy Ferrier's side enjoyed large swathes of possession at the Rheinpark Stadium on Tuesday evening but were ultimately undone by Spain's cutting edge in attack. France's immediate task is to dust themselves down and collect enough points against Portugal and Switzerland to book a semi-final berth, but Digne also has one eye further down the line.
Hearing La Marseillaise gives me great pleasure but also great stress and it is a dream to play for the senior national team," he told UEFA.com. "But there are many, many steps still to go. I looked at Bixente Lizarazu in the past and I also try to model myself on Patrice Evra, both great players.
"I hope to learn at this tournament how to cope with the pressure so I can go back to my club and impress the manager. We all hope to start playing regularly in Ligue 1 next season. I also hope to stay involved with the national team. This is a great experience and it is very important how to learn to deal with playing games in quick succession and coping with the stress and the injuries of a tournament."
While Digne harbours his own hopes of becoming a fixture for LOSC Lille Métropole, he also knows that some of his U17 team-mates might hit the big time sooner rather than later. "[AJ Auxerre striker] Yaya Sanogo and [RC Lens midfielder] Dylan Deligny are the ones to watch next season," he added. "I think they will both feature in Ligue 1."
Three points against Portugal – 3-0 victors against Switzerland in their opener – on Friday is likely to be a must for France if they are to progress and though Digne is all too aware of the challenge Rui Bento's side will pose following a 3-0 friendly defeat in February, he remains defiant.
"We lost 3-0 to Portugal recently so we will not need to watch much of them in preparation for Friday's game," he said. "We will need to concentrate on our own game. I don't think Spain were much better than us on the night, it was just unlucky.
"There are always positives we can take out of a game like that because of the way we played. The coach told us that we had played well and it was only because of minor things that we lost. We have used our 'joker' in the tournament so now we need to concentrate on what is ahead."
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