French backline dealt blow by Varane's injury

PARIS • France's Euro 2016 preparations took a knock on Tuesday with key defender Raphael Varane ruled out injured of next month's tournament on home soil with his place taken by Adil Rami.

Coach Didier Deschamps had feared the worst after Real Madrid announced on Sunday that the 23-year-old Varane, capped 29 times for France, had suffered a serious left thigh injury.

And scans confirmed his fears and the diagnosis of Real Madrid team doctors that the player would be out of action for up to three weeks.

"The clinical examination and MRI Tuesday morning at Rambouillet hospital confirmed the initial diagnosis of the medical staff of Real Madrid, namely a torn left biceps femoris grade 2," the French Football Federation said in a statement.

"Given the unavailability time is considered too long for the national team deadlines, Didier Deschamps decided not to retain Raphael Varane for Euro 2016."

The absence of the centre-back is a fresh blow for Deschamps, who is already without a key defender as Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho was left out of his 23-man squad due to a provisional doping ban.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has also been omitted over his alleged involvement in a sex tape blackmail case.

Varane's absence means Les Bleus will begin their campaign without a key defender who has played every game for the national side since the 2014 World Cup.

Deschamps must now find an alternative in defence and a player to work in tandem with Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny, with the Blues' first friendly against Cameroon on Monday likely to serve as a test.

Sevilla defender Rami had been called up by Deschamps on Monday as cover in case Varane was ruled out.

The 30-year-old has 26 caps for France and was a regular squad member under the tenure of former national boss Laurent Blanc from 2010 to 2012 but had not been called up by Deschamps since June 2013.

He had a good season with Sevilla, the Europa League winners and Spanish Cup finalists, and had been severe in his criticism of Deschamps after failing to make the initial squad.

France, winners in 1984 and 2000, open their Euro campaign against Romania on June 10.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'French backline dealt blow by Varane's injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe