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France team doctor critical of Bayern Munich over way they handled Franck Ribery's back injury

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RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil - France's team doctor has criticized Bayern Munich for the way the club handled a lingering back injury that ruled star winger Franck Ribery out of the World Cup.

Ribery appeared to have made progress from a chronic lower back injury that had plagued him for weeks, only to be ruled out of the competition last Friday when he pulled up in training. It came just three days before France flew to Brazil, depriving coach Didier Deschamps of his most experienced player and most dangerous attacker.

"When I examined him and we did tests with the X-ray and scans, I was very reassured. There was no reason why he wouldn't play in the World Cup," France doctor Franck Le Gall said Thursday. "We have some explanations for his pain. However, he didn't find a way ... we didn't find the way for his pains to cease or for him to play through his discomfort."

Ribery, who has scored 16 goals in 81 appearances for France, made his last appearance of the season for Bayern as a substitute in the German Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund on May 17, when he came on in the first half and was substituted during extra time.

Ribery had been rested following the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League semifinal on April 29, and Le Gall thinks it was too risky for Ribery to play in the Cup final less than three weeks later.

"He was out for more or less three weeks and played a match which he probably shouldn't have played because he played through pain," Le Gall said. He said when Ribery joined up with the France team at its World Cup training camp he "was just as much bothered" by the injury as before.

Bayern "didn't manage to solve the problem in (those) three weeks," said Le Gall, who estimated that Ribery should be ready to play by mid-August.

Le Gall was asked if France had considered treating Ribery's injury by injection. It was an option that appeared to be ruled out by the France team's medical staff, even though, Le Gall said, Bayern could be regularly treating its players with jabs.

"Franck belongs to a club where for all pathological treatments — twisted ankles, bruising, muscle pains, contractions, tears — there are injections," Le Gall said. "There are 10 per pathology (injury), or 20, 25, 40 per year, or more. So there comes a time when, well ... he (Ribery) has had enough of injections. If for a moment we thought it could be solved that way, we didn't do it, because he's scared of injections."

In other injury updates, France striker Olivier Giroud and centre half Laurent Koscielny were earlier cleared to take part in Thursday's training session after sitting out the previous day's practice to have some physio treatment.

Giroud had some tightness in his left hamstring and Koscielny, his Arsenal club teammate, has some tendinitis in his Achilles.

"(Koscielny) has been carrying that for several weeks or perhaps a bit more. He's played a lot of games this season," Le Gall said. "He's in great shape but tendons in the Achilles are a bit sensitive. During the competition we'll probably rest him for one, two, or three training sessions so as not to make the situation worse."

Mamadou Sakho has recovered from some bruising to his right knee.

"He felt some pain and a kind of locking sensation," Le Gall said. "The scan was reassuring, and he trained normally (on Wednesday). He was more apprehensive than anything."

All three players are expected to be ready when France opens its Group E campaign against Honduras on Sunday.

While Koscielny is not certain to be selected by Deschamps, Giroud is expected to lead the attack.

"He's fine and we decided that he could take part in training," Le Gall said of Giroud. "I don't have any particular apprehension. If he's training this afternoon it means that we think he's available."

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