Defending World Cup champions France may have been rocked by the withdrawal of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema but manager Didier Deschamps insists his squad can cope with their growing injury list.
Benzema was forced out of the tournament with a thigh injury over the weekend, joining a list of absent senior players including N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, Paul Pogba and Christopher Nkunku.
Benzema’s late exit robs them of a player who has been in some of the best form of his career but also another significant voice around the group.
Speaking on the eve of his side’s first game against Australia, Deschamps admitted Les Bleus were now without some of their bigger characters but believes those who remain have not been too badly affected.
‘You think I can just click my fingers and someone can say ‘OK, I will be a leader, I will give pep talks and lead the squad to victory’? No, it’s something that comes with time,’ he said.
There’s no apprehension. We have done everything possible. There’s no anxiety, every is calm and there are cool heads.’
Deschamps also explained why he had declined to replace Benzema in his squad, leaving the likes of forward Anthony Martial surplus to requirements.
‘I’ve got 25 players in my squad. I’m convinced I have the efficient number of players to be able to deal with the challenges we face,’ he said.