Can Alan Pardew lead Southampton back to the Championship? Tom Powell previews the betting.

France’s Minister for Health and Sports, Roselyne Bachelot, has again spoken against the continued selection of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema in the national team.

The pair are currently under investigation on suspicion of soliciting sex with an underage prostitute, but new France coach Laurent Blanc has confirmed that them the door remains open for future selection.

Bachelot was a vocal critic of former coach Raymond Domenech’s World Cup squad both during and after their dismal campaign in South Africa. She has been consistent in her opposition to Ribery and Benzema’s inclusion – although she has pledged not to directly intervene.

She told Europe 1: “I respect what Laurent Blanc will do. These men are innocent (until proven guilty) but it makes it very difficult if someone under investigation can be selected in the France team.

“I will not set out a process – I will simply say that there is the judiciary procedure on one side and the France team on another.”

Blanc said last Wednesday: “You have to respect the presumption of innocence, and the interest of the France team has to be fundamental. Ribery and Benzema are among the players who are potentially very influential in the team.”

Blanc suspended the entire World Cup squad for next week’s friendly against Norway after their training-ground mutiny in South Africa, meaning Ribery will automatically be excluded from the match.

Benzema, though, was omitted from Domenech’s 23-man party and the Real Madrid man can expect to be included in the squad which travels to Oslo.

Can Alan Pardew lead Southampton back to the Championship? Tom Powell previews the betting.

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