France coach Deschamps decides not to replace Benzema

AFP

France coach Didier Deschamps has decided not to replace injured striker Karim Benzema in his World Cup squad, leaving the reigning champions with 25 players for their title defence.

Benzema trained with the squad for the first time since arriving in Qatar on Saturday but was forced to leave the session early with a thigh injury and scans ruled him out of the tournament.

Asked on Sunday by TeleFoot whether he would replace the Ballon d'Or winner in his squad, Deschamps said "No".

"This is a quality group," he added. "In everything they do, both on and off the pitch, they are united. I have confidence in them."

Benzema was the second French player to join the casualty list in less than a week after forward Christopher Nkunku was injured in a training session and replaced in the squad by Randal Kolo Muani.

Influential midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante were ruled out of the tournament by injury before Deschamps named his squad.

France open their campaign against Australia on Tuesday and also play Tunisia and Denmark in Group D.

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