Benzema and Ben Arfa in France squad

Benzema and Ben Arfa in France squad


Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa are among the biggest names in Laurent Blanc's first France squad, for next week's friendly in Norway.

The pair were surprise exclusions from former coach Raymond Domenech's World Cup group, and were therefore exempt when the French Football Federation responded to a summer campaign of failure and infighting by suspending all 23 players involved.

Benzema's Real Madrid team-mate, midfielder Lassana Diarra, was ruled out of the tournament due to illness and is also therefore available to return, while there is a recall too for Arsenal's Samir Nasri in a 22-man group.

Blanc opted to snub Domenech's squad altogether following their return from South Africa with only one point and one goal after Nicolas Anelka's dismissal from the group had sparked a training-ground mutiny which saw the players refuse to train on June 20 - two days before facing the host nation.

The shadow squad contains 15 uncapped players in total, headed by Roma's Jeremy Menez, who overcame a minor knee injury suffered in Saturday's friendly against Paris Saint-Germain to take his place in the squad.

Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia and reported Stoke target Loic Remy, currently at Nice, also stand to make their first senior international appearances.

Either Nicolas Douchez or Stephane Ruffier will play in goal for the first time, while Aly Cissokho, Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Mamadou Sakho and Benoit Tremoulinas feature in an inexperienced defensive septet in which only Menez's club-mate Philippe Mexes (13 caps) and Rennes' Rod Fanni (four) have played for their country before.

Lille's Yohan Cabaye, St Etienne duo Blaise Matuidi and Yann Mvila and Toulouse's Moussa Sissoko join N'Zogbia in the midfield running and PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau completes the uncapped contingent.

Diarra and Benzema, with 27 caps apiece, are by far the most experienced members of the squad, with Nasri (15) and Mexes the only others in double figures.

Up front, Ben Arfa has seven caps and Lyon's Jimmy Briand three.

Full France squad: Nicolas Douchez (Rennes), Stephane Ruffier (Monaco); Aly Cissokho (Monaco), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Rod Fanni (Rennes), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (Paris St Germain), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux); Yohane Cabaye (Lille), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Blaise Matuidi, Yann Mvila (both Saint-Etienne), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan), Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse); Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Jimmy Briand (Lyon), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris St Germain), Jeremy Menez (Roma), Loic Remy (Nice).

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