Abidal set for France return in Euro 2012 qualifier

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Barcelona defender Eric Abidal, who underwent surgery on a liver tumour in March, was on Thursday recalled to the France team by coach Laurent Blanc for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Belarus and two friendlies next month.

Sochaux midfielder Marvin Martin also received his first call up to the national team after being named by Blanc in the 26-man squad.

Abidal, 31, was forced to withdraw for the last two matches – a 2-0 win at Luxembourg and 0-0 draw against Croatia – and was replaced by Patrice Evra and then Gael Clichy.

Evra has been included in Thursday’s squad but not Clichy.

“I spoke to him by telephone to say I was very happy to see him back on the pitch,” said Blanc.

“He’s a lad who returns in form after a difficult operation. Being back in the group will give him enormous pleasure and if he’s in good form physically he can bid for the position of left back.

“We’ll know more if he plays on Saturday (Champions League final against Manchester United). What he achieved is surprising but a good surprise.”

Martin, 23, who lead the championship with 17 decisive passes last season, gets his first call up to the national side.

“We’ve been following him since the second part of the championship, his performances caught our attention,” admitted Blanc.

“He’s a technical player in a team who had a good season.”

Martin comes in for Yoann Gourcuff who had a disappointing season with Lyon.

Midfielder Charles Nzogbia returns after being overlooked since last August with Younes Kaboul and Mamadou Sakho replacing injured Philippe Mexes and Laurent Koscielny.

After the European qualifier in Minsk on June 3, France will play friendlies against the Ukraine in Donetsk and Poland in Warsaw on June 6 and 9.

France are top of Group D in their Euro 2012 qualifiers, four points ahead of Albania and Belarus after five games.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux)

Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona/ESP), Bakary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (Paris SG), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham/ENG)

Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Yann Mvila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ENG), Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ENG), Jeremy Menez (AS Roma/ITA), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ENG), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Charles N’Zogbia (Wigan/ENG), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)

Strikers: Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris SG), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loic Remy (Marseille)

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