Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy was recalled to the France squad on Thursday for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania. Left-back Mendy, 25, was part of the squad that won the 2018 World Cup in Russia but has not played for his country since winning his ninth cap in a UEFA Nations League game against the Netherlands in September last year.
“He seems to be on the right road back to his very best form,” said coach Didier Deschamps of a player who has spent much of the last two years on the sidelines with knee problems.
France are without goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, who has just undergone surgery on a dislocated elbow, as they look to clinch their place at next year’s Euro 2020 finals.
Paul Pogba and Lucas Hernandez are also sidelined, but Kylian Mbappe returns after the Paris Saint-Germain striker was forced to withdraw from the last squad due to fitness problems.
Olivier Giroud is also included despite a lack of game time at his club Chelsea. The 33-year-old scored in each of France’s matches last month, netting from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win in Iceland and then heading in as Les Bleus drew 1-1 with Turkey.
“His situation is really too uncomfortable when you consider his personal objectives and those of the France team,” warned Deschamps.
“Physically he is in great shape but like all players he needs to be out on the field more than he has been in the last two months.”
Lyon right-back Leo Dubois and Real Betis forward Nabil Fekir are also named in the squad but there is no place for Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti.
France are level atop qualifying Group H with Turkey on 19 points, four points clear of Iceland with two matches remaining and the top two advancing to the 24-team finals.
A win against 175th-ranked Moldova at the Stade de France on Thursday, November 14 will clinch qualification, although they could be assured progress before that game kicks off, provided Iceland fail to beat Turkey in Istanbul.
They finish their campaign in Albania on Sunday, November 17.
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid/ESP), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton/ENG), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona/ESP), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City/ENG), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/ITA), Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko (both Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/GER)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis/ESP), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona/ESP), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)