Umtiti and Coman return to France squad for start of Euro qualifiers

SABC News Samuel Umtiti R - Umtiti and Coman return to France squad for start of Euro qualifiers

Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti and Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman return to the France squad named on Thursday as the World Cup winners prepare for the start of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. Umtiti missed France’s last get-togethers in October and November, but is fit again after a knee injury and is one of 16 members of Didier Deschamps’ triumphant World Cup squad to make the list of 23.

Injuries have disrupted Coman’s career and the 22-year-old has not played for his country since November 2017.

France faces minnows Moldova, ranked 170th in the world, away in Chisinau on 22 March in their opening game in Euro 2020 qualifying Group H. They then host Iceland on 25 March at the Stade de France in a repeat of their Euro 2016 quarter-final, which Les Bleus won 5-2.

Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial come back in after missing France’s games against the Netherlands, in the UEFA Nations League, and Uruguay in a friendly in November, due to injury.

Everton’s Kurt Zouma is included along with Paris Saint-Germain’s Layvin Kurzawa, who comes back in from the cold with fellow left-backs Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Mendy and Ferland Mendy are all absent.

Umtiti’s Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembele is missing after being ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury, while their club colleague, centre-back Clement Lenglet, missed out on a call-up.

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was also, once again, left out; a situation that continues to bemuse observers in England, but is of no great surprise in France.

“Clement is one of those players who are supposedly meant to be knocking on the door. These are players who, even if they are not called up, do make us think. But my logic is that experience carries an important weight,” said Deschamps of Lenglet.

France, who lost the Euro 2016 final as hosts to Portugal, will also face Albania, Andorra and Turkey in Group H, with the top two teams going through to next year’s finals.

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