France manager Didier Deschamps has called on his players to move on from the terrorist attacks on the Stade de France last November when they make what will be an emotional return to the national stadium for the friendly against Russia.
The France players and those of Germany were kept inside the stadium following a series of terrorist attacks on Paris and its northern suburb of St Denis on November 13 which saw 130 murdered.
France play their next friendly away to the Netherlands on Friday before a first return to the Stade de France since the terrorist attacks when they play host to Russia on March 29.
Deschamps told a press conference at Clairefontaine, shown on www.l’equipe.fr: “No one can forget what happened. But there is no need to talk about it. We lived very emotional moments, all together. Now we must move forward, all safety measures will be taken.”
As he prepares for Euro 2016 Deschamps has handed a return to West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Leicester’s Ngolo Kante for the forthcoming friendlies but would not be drawn on the continued absence of Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid striker has not been part of Les Bleus’ set-up since October’s friendly against Armenia, after which he was questioned by police in connection with an alleged blackmail plot against international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape reportedly showing the Lyon midfielder.
The 28-year-old was released from custody but was ordered not to have any contact with Valbuena, effectively ruling him out of contention for Deschamps’ squad.
That restriction has been rescinded, since when speculation has surrounded Benzema but he has not been handed an international return.
Valbuena is absent from the latest France squad too, with Deschamps considering the Lyon player unfit for international duty.
Deschamps said of Benzema: “I’m sorry for you, I will not comment on it. There are 23 players present, I only talk about those.”
He was more forthcoming on Payet, saying: “Dimitri made a very good season with great consistency in his performance. We see it with West Ham playing the top of the table in England. He scores goals. That’s why he’s here, he comes back.”
The France coach added on Kante: “He has this ability to carry the ball. He is able to play left or right.”