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World Cup qualifier Group 4

Veteran goalkeeper Fabien Barthez has been ruled out of France’s opening qualifying game in Paris, after sustaining an ankle injury.

Nantes goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau has been called up as a replacement to the squad, with Grégory Coupet set to start the game against Israel on Saturday, as Les Bleus look to try and put the crushing disappointment of their Euro 2004 campaign behind them.

They will have to do so without both David Trezeguet and Alou Diarra, with Louis Saha and Vikash Dhorasoo deputising for the injured pair.

Trezeguet, who disappointed with his poor showing in Portugal, will be replaced by Saha, who has scored twice in 5 appearances for France.

Diarra is currently suffering from a thigh problem, which has given recent Milan signing Dhorosoo the chance to add to his 2 caps.

Aside from these changes, it will be a very unfamiliar French side, after the international retirements of Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu and Zinedine Zidane – all World Cup and European Championship winners – after Euro 2004

New coach Raymond Domenech is admitting concern about the prospect of moulding a new generation of stars into a squad worthy of emulating their predecessors.

“We have been looking for experienced players in defence, but we don’t have any of the calibre of those who left.

“The first competitive international match of a new generation is always difficult and the fact that we face Israel is definitely worrying, said the new boss.

Israel will have to do without the services of defender Shimon Gershon, who pulled a hamstring in training. Gershon is however hoping to be fit for Wednesday’s home match against Cyprus.

The Israelis, who recently lost twice to France in their Euro 2004 qualifying, group, are also missing both Avi Strul and Tomer Ben Yossaf, which may lead to Coach Avraham Grant starting with late call up Adoram Keisias.

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