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Karim Benzema ‘unlikely to return to France World Cup squad’

Karim Benzema ‘unlikely to return to France World Cup squad’

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is reportedly highly unlikely to return to the France World Cup 2022 squad, despite previous optimism over a recall.

The Ballon d’Or winner was called up to Didier Deschamps‘s squad for his first World Cup since 2014, but his tournament was over before it had even begun due to injury.

Benzema had struggled to stay fit throughout the first half of the 2022-23 season, but he had rejoined the team for full training ahead of their opening Group D clash with Australia on November 22.

However, the 34-year-old soon sustained a fresh thigh problem and was ruled out of the tournament, adding to Deschamps’s ever-growing injury crisis with the reigning champions.

Benzema was given a three-week recovery period after suffering the issue on November 19, which would theoretically not have ruled out his chances of competing in the latter stages of the World Cup.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema after winning the Ballon d'Or on October 17, 2022© Reuters

On Monday evening, it was reported that the former Lyon man could have been set for a shock return to the Bleus camp, as he remains on the 26-man squad list and was not replaced by Deschamps.

However, RMC Sport now claims that such a scenario is highly unlikely, even though Benzema is recovering well from his latest thigh problem.

The report states that the striker is set to return to training on Thursday in Madrid, but he will only be capable of individual drills and is still some way off getting back to full match fitness.

Deschamps will have the final say over Benzema’s potential reintroduction, but the chances of the Real Madrid man making a comeback in Qatar are said to be “tiny, almost nil”.

Benzema boasts 37 goals and 20 assists from his 97 appearances in a France shirt, although Les Bleus have coped fine without the Ballon d’Or winner during their title defence so far.

Karim Benzema in action for Real Madrid on October 5, 2022© Reuters

France became the first side to qualify for the last 16 at the weekend, having followed up their opening 4-1 thrashing of Australia with a 2-1 success over Denmark.

In Benzema’s absence, Kylian Mbappe has come up with three goals and one assist at the tournament, while Olivier Giroud equalled Thierry Henry‘s men’s record of 51 France goals with a brace against Australia.

Benzema was forced to pull out of the tournament only a few days after Christopher Nkunku suffered a knee injury that ended his World Cup hopes, while Presnel Kimpembe also withdrew due to an Achilles problem.

The trio joined Mike Maignan, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante on the sidelines, while Lucas Hernandez suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in France’s opening win against Australia and is now facing months out.

The world champions will hope to confirm a first-placed finish in Group D when they tackle Tunisia in Tuesday’s contest at the Education City Stadium.

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