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Didier Deschamps rules out World Cup recall for Karim Benzema

Didier Deschamps rules out World Cup recall for Karim Benzema

France manager Didier Deschamps has affirmed that he is not considering a World Cup 2022 recall for injured striker Karim Benzema.

Despite struggling with fitness issues throughout the first half of the 2022-23 season with Real Madrid, the 34-year-old was called up to France’s 26-man squad for Qatar.

Benzema had missed Reals final couple of games before the World Cup break due to muscular fatigue and was initially classed as a doubt to face Australia on the opening day.

The former Lyon attacker did make a brief return to full training with Les Bleus before their clash with Socceroos, but he sustained a fresh thigh injury in the session and was sent for scans on the evening of November 19.

Tests subsequently showed that Benzema’s latest problem would take three weeks to heal, forcing him to withdraw from France’s World Cup squad, although Deschamps did not call up a replacement.

France coach Didier Deschamps on November 22, 2022© Reuters

As a result, Benzema remains on Les Bleus’ official squad list, and there had been rumours that the striker could be recalled to the squad, with his recovery currently going well.

However, a recent report has claimed that the chances of Benzema returning for the knockout rounds are “almost nil”, and Deschamps has now ruled out that possibility.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about now. I spoke to Benzema after he left the training camp. I leave it to you if you want to have a debate about it. The thought hasn’t crossed my mind,” Deschamps told reporters on Tuesday.

It had been claimed that Benzema was set to return to Real Madrid training on Thursday, but a separate report from L’Equipe now states that he will instead continue his recovery in an unknown location on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.

Benzema – who has not played at a World Cup since 2014 – has 37 goals and 20 assists to show from 97 international caps for France, who became the first team to qualify for the knockout stages after beating Denmark 2-1 at the weekend.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema pictured on September 6, 2022© Reuters

In the 34-year-old’s absence, Kylian Mbappe scored both goals against Denmark and also provided an assist in their 4-1 thumping of Australia, where Olivier Giroud bagged a brace to match Thierry Henry‘s men’s record of 51 goals for France.

Benzema is one of several notable names to miss out for France at the 2022 World Cup, with Presnel Kimpembe, Mike Maignan, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku also watching on from home.

However, the defending champions have made a strong start to their Qatar campaign and will aim to advance as Group D winners in Tuesday’s showdown with Tunisia.

Deschamps is expected to ring the changes for that game with qualification already assured, as the likes of Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram, Matteo Guendouzi and Ibrahima Konate hope to earn starting roles.

Three points for Les Bleus would also see Deschamps equal a World Cup managerial record, as he could take his win percentage to 80% from 15 games, having prevailed in 11 of his 14 in charge so far.

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