The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Forward Antoine Griezmann called up in France squad for friendly against the Netherlands
PARIS - France coach Didier Deschamps called up forward Antoine Griezmann on Thursday for a friendly against the Netherlands.
Griezmann has scored 15 goals for Real Sociedad this season, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa in the Spanish league.
"He's very efficient, he scores a lot of goals and also makes assists," Deschamps said. "He can play on both wings and up front. He's a player who is technically sound in everything he does. That's why I called him up."
Griezmann was banned from the national team until Jan. 1 for going to a nightclub in October 2012 during the playoffs for the 2013 Under-21 European Championship. France's team beat Norway 1-0 in the first leg but failed to qualify after losing the second leg 5-3.
"Happy to be in the squad," Griezmann wrote on his Twitter account. "It's just the beginning. Let's keep on working."
Another surprise addition to the squad is Paris Saint-Germain left back Lucas Digne, while defenders Eric Abidal and Gael Clichy were dropped along with midfielder Samir Nasri.
Digne has played only nine league games this season.
"His relatively weak playing time has not prevented him from performing well each time PSG coach Laurent Blanc has used him," Deschamps said. "He's a young player with a strong potential. So it was the right time for me to call him up."
Digne played in the France team that won the Under-20 World Cup title last year.
Deschamps also overlooked Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, Marseille forward Florian Thauvin, Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini and AC Milan defender Adil Rami. But he kept his trust in left back Patrice Evra, who performed poorly in Manchester United's 2-0 loss at Olympiakos on Tuesday in the Champions League.
France will host the Netherlands in a friendly on March 5.
At the World Cup, France will face Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E. Les Bleus will also play friendlies against Norway, Paraguay and Jamaica before the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
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