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Benzema ruled out of France qualifiers

October 04, 2011 10:40 IST
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France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Albania and next Tuesday's game with Bosnia because of an abductor muscle problem and several other players are carrying injuries.

"The nature of (Benzema's) injury means we couldn't have him for the two matches. He must return to Real Madrid tonight," France coach Laurent Blanc told reporters on Monday, adding that he did not know if he would call up a replacement.

France lead Group D by a point from Bosnia with just the two home qualifiers left.

Regulars Philippe Mexes, Yoann Gourcuff, Abou Diaby and Guillaume Hoarau were not included in the squad announced last week because of long-standing injuries and on Sunday Bacary Sagna pulled out after breaking his leg playing for Arsenal.

Karim BenzemaA host of players in the squad are carrying injuriesand may be doubtful for one or both of the Stade de France encounters which will decide France's fate.

Talismanic winger Franck Ribery and midfielder Blaise Matuidi have knocks along with defenders Eric Abidal and Laurent Koscielny.

"It is part of the job of national coach," Blanc added.

"Players are subjected to a quite tough regime with (club)matches every three or four days and muscle injuries can multiply."

Blanc tried to remain optimistic.

"We hope to have Franck back, possibly as early as Friday. Eric is very important to us. I really hope he will be fit to play."

A decision on a possible replacement call-up for Benzema depends on whether Blanc sticks to his usual plan of having one upfront or switches to 4-4-2 given Albania are likely to play defensively on Friday, the coach added.

France may try to attack more than normal as they need to beat Albania to guarantee they stay in front of Bosnia ahead of the final showdown with the Balkan side.

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