Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has been recalled to France’s squad for next week’s friendly at England for the first time since Laurent Blanc took over as coach.
Abidal, who has made 50 appearances for his country, has been enjoying a good run of form at Barcelona, where he became coach Pep Guardiola’s first choice at left back.
The French Football Federation opened a disciplinary case against Abidal over his role in the players’ strike at the World Cup in South Africa, but he escaped without punishment.
“Eric Abidal has been selected as a left back,” Blanc said. “He played good matches with Barcelona, we went there to see him. He still can bid for a starting spot at left back.”
Blanc also called up Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna, who had to withdraw from the squad before last month’s 2-0 win over Romania in European Championship qualifying.
“I can say that the players I called up at our previous training camp gave me satisfaction,” said Blanc.
In the midfield, Blanc picked Alou Diarra, who last week was given a six-match ban for shoving a referee in the chest during a French league match.
“(Diarra) is an important player,” Blanc said. “In three matches, he confirmed his status, both off and on the pitch. His position within the group was important in my decision and he will be able to keep playing his role, especially off the pitch.”
In the absence of Anelka, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was expected to lead the French attack at Wembley even though the former Lyon player is struggling to play on a regular basis with his club.
“If there was competition at his post, that will certainly go against him,” Blanc said. “But when I look at the number of goals he scored for France compared to his caps, there is no match. Karim is a key player for France.”
Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Sami Nasri (Arsenal), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris Saint-Germain), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne), Loic Remy (Marseille).