Midfielder Diarra returns to France squad after eight years

Paris, Oct 2 (IANS) France football team head coach Didier Deschamps has announced the squad for the next two friendly matches against Armenia on October 8 and against Denmark three days later.

Absent from the list of Deschamps is Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, while former Real Madrid player Lassana Diarra returns to the team after spending almost all of last year out of the field and after making a good start this season with Marseille, Efe reported on Thursday.

The coach said that Diarra has great international experience and has played in big European clubs like Real Madrid and Chelsea, adding that he is very effective in front of defense.

Deschamps recalled that Diarra, 30, has not played for the national team since 2007, when he said he was ending his international career.

But the coach said that he called Diarra, who was absent from the 2010 FIFA World Cup because of illness, because he is excited again about being international.

This is also the second time that Manchester United’s teenage striker Anthony Martial is called for selection, while it is the first for Villarreal goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

Areola will be the third choice goalkeeper, behind the starter and captain Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur, and Steve Mandanda of Marseille.

Deschamps admitted having had a conversation with the previous third goalkeeper, Stephane Ruffier, after the keeper of Saint-Etienne showed his dissatisfaction with the job.

The Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/England), Steve Mandanda (Marseille/France), Alphonse Areola (Villarreal/Spain)

Defenders: Patrice Evra (Juventus/Italy), Christophe Jallet (Lyon/France), Eliakim Mangala (Manchester City/England), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City/England), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool/England), Benoit Tremoulinas (Sevilla/Spain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/Spain), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea/England)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace/England), Lassana Diarra (Marseille/France), Blaise Matuidi (PSG/France), Paul Pogba (Juventus/Italy), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United/England), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle/England)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/Spain), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/England), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/Spain), Anthony Martial (Manchester United/England), Paul-Georges Ntep (Rennes/France), Mathieu Valbuena (Lyon/France).

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