Rising youngster Nabil Fekir included in France squad for first time
France coach Didier Deschamps included Lyon`s rising talent Nabil Fekir in his 23-player squad for the first time as the Euro 2016 hosts get set for friendlies against Brazil on March 26 and Denmark on March 29.
Deschamps, as expected, called up Fekir for the matches in Paris and Saint-Etienne respectively, after the attacking midfielder declared his allegiance to France and not Algeria where he has family roots.
Fekir has been one of the revelations of the Ligue 1 season, scoring 11 goals and adding 7 assists, as Lyon head into the final stretch of the season with a two point lead over defending champions Paris Saint-Germain.
There was debate over whether he would choose to play for France, where he was born in Lyon, or the country of his father, Algeria.
Deschamps reportedly swayed his decision by promising Fekir a chance to break into the France squad looking ahead to Euro 2016 when the 1984 and 2000 champions will host the tournament.
Arsenal`s in-form striker Olivier Giroud and Real Madrid marksman Karim Benzema lead a strong strike force that also includes Lyon`s Alexandre Lacazette, the top scorer in Ligue 1, Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid and Dynamo Moscow`s Mathieu Valbuena.
Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba was left out after picking up an injury during his side`s 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Champions League last-16 action on Wednesday.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne)
Defenders: Patrice Evra (Juventus/ITA), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City/ENG), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool/ENG), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP), Benoit Tremoulinas (Sevilla/ESP), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Geoffrey Kondogbia (Monaco), Blaise Matuidi (Paris SG), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle/ENG), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton/ENG), Dimitri Payet (Marseille)
Forwards: Mathieu Valbuena (Dynamo Moscow/RUS), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG)