Deschamps confident Pogba will make World Cup, dismisses Zidane talk

By Sports Desk August 08, 2022

Didier Deschamps remains confident Paul Pogba will be fit to play a big role for France at the World Cup despite missing the start of the season through injury.

Pogba sustained a knee problem in pre-season after returning to Juventus from Manchester United on a free transfer.

There were early suggestions surgery could see the World Cup winner miss Qatar 2022, but he has opted instead for therapy that aims to ensure a far swifter return.

Pogba is set to again be paired with N'Golo Kante in the France midfield in November, although the Chelsea man has not been without his own injury issues in recent seasons.

"We're talking about players who are in high demand – two players who have a big experience, leaders," Deschamps told Le Parisien of the duo.

"It is important that they are there, but we are never safe – hence the need to prepare younger players.

"I am obviously in contact with Paul. His participation in the World Cup, today, is not questioned."

Antoine Griezmann is another player still seen as key to Deschamps' plans, despite scoring only three goals in LaLiga last season.

"He's not a robot. Obviously the head controls the legs," Deschamps explained. "But every player encounters, sooner or later, a period of playing less well.

"This translates, then, into a loss of confidence.

"Antoine has had high-intensity seasons. Before his physical issue at the beginning of the year [a thigh injury], he had always been spared from injuries during his career.

"A few months earlier, he had changed clubs. External elements may also have impacted it.

"I know him well. He has a big mind. He needed to regenerate and will do everything to return to his best level. He represents a plus for the France team."

For now the focus is on getting France in the best condition heading into the World Cup, even as former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane continues to be linked to Deschamps' job.

The France boss, for his part, is not worried, saying: "I've always put the France team above me, above everything.

"Today, the place is not free, since I occupy it with my staff. Afterwards, everyone has the freedom to say what he wants and how he wants. On me, it has no impact.

"The interest, today, for the players and the whole squad, is to be efficient at the World Cup. Anything that can defeat this common goal is not necessarily a good thing."

Related items

  • 'Stranger things have happened' says Scotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset 'Stranger things have happened' says Scotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset

    Lewis Morgan believes Scotland can surprise Germany ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against the hosts this Friday. 

    Steve Clarke's side travel to Munich in search of their first victory over their opponents since 1999, having failed to beat Die Mannschaft in their previous four encounters.

    The New York Red Bulls winger was a late arrival in Scotland's provisional squad after it was announced Ben Doak had to withdraw through injury, and made it into the travelling group of 26. 

    Morgan ended his six-year absence from the international stage with a substitute appearance in a 2-2 draw against Finland at Hampden Park last week to earn his third cap for his country, 2,193 days since his last. 

    The 27-year-old has scored nine goals in 16 MLS appearances so far this season in the Eastern Conference, and believes his side have every chance of starting their Group A campaign with a victory. 

    "Absolutely, stranger things have happened in football," Morgan said about the possibility of Scotland upsetting the host nation.

    "We've got a really, really talented squad here, a good group of players playing at the highest level in world football.

    "There's no reason why we can't go there and get something, but we can only do that if we give the best version of ourselves and stick to the game plan."

    Following Friday's fixture against Germany, the Scots will face Switzerland before concluding their group campaign in Stuttgart against Hungary, with the hopes of reaching the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time in their history. 

  • Berhalter: USA focusing on performance rather than result against Brazil Berhalter: USA focusing on performance rather than result against Brazil

    United States head coach Gregg Berhalter has said he will be prioritising player performance and not a result ahead of his side's friendly fixture against Brazil. 

    Berhalter watched on as the USA began their Copa America preparations with a 5-1 defeat to Colombia in Maryland, their heaviest defeat since 2016. 

    Los Cafeteros scored three times in 11 minutes during the second half, reawakening scepticism among supporters about the ability of the squad to compete against the top sides in international football. 

    But ahead of their meeting with the five-time World Cup winners, Berhalter insisted that his team will not change course and continue preparations as planned for the 48th edition of the tournament. 

    "We want to gain information on both Brazil and our own players, so we have to be brave and we have to continue with our plan," said Berhalter. 

    "Obviously a lot of pressure from the outside after a 5-1 defeat at home but for us, again, it's about preparing this group for Copa America."

    The USA begin their Group C campaign against Bolivia, who won the tournament in 1963, before facing Panama and Uruguay in the hopes of replicating their semi-final run in the competition in 2016. 

    Berhalter said that he and his coaching staff will be focused more on performance than the result against the Selecao Canarinha in Florida on Wednesday, having failed to beat their opponents since 1998, losing by an aggregate scoreline of 8-28. 

    "If we look after the game and we see 11 guys, 16 guys, performing at an eight out of 10 level, that will be enough," he said. 

    "We know Brazil's a very good team but for us it's about how do we perform at our highest level against teams like this."

  • St Kitts, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dom Rep secure first WCQ victories St Kitts, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dom Rep secure first WCQ victories

    St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic registered a maiden win in their respective Concacaf World Cup Qualifying campaign, as they brought the curtains down on second round action, on Tuesday.

    Five players scored twice for their respective teams, including Guyana’s Deon Moore, Dominican Republic’s Rafael Mata and Dorny Romero, and Puerto Rico’s Jeremy de Leon and Wilfredo Rivera.

    St Lucia vs Aruba

    St Lucia and Aruba were the only teams that failed to separate themselves, as they played out a 2-2 scoreline in Group C at Wildey Turf in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    Aruba got the perfect start they desired, when Walter Bennett headed home from close range to gift them a 22nd-minute lead, before Isai Marselia added a second from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute.

    However, Ridel Stanislas (45+2) cut the deficit for St Lucia with a tidy finish from deep inside the 18-yard box, to make it 2-1 at the break.

    Peter Pearson then pulled St Lucia level in the 66th minute to secure a share of the spoils.

    With this, their first point of the campaign, St Lucia and Aruba occupy third and fourth positions in the group behind Curaçao and Haiti, on six points each, heading into the break.

    St Kitts and Nevis vs Bahamas

    St Kitts and Nevis edged Bahamas, 1-0, in Group B at Warner Park in Basseterre.

    Ethan Bristow found the all-important goal in the 12th minute when he pounced on a rebound.

    With the win, The Sugar Boyz inched up to third in the group, behind Costa Rica (six points) and Trinidad and Tobago (four points).

    Guyana vs Belize

    Guyana proved too strong for Belize with a 3-1 victory in Group D action at Wildey Turf in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    After playing out a goalless first half, Deon Moore finished off an Omari Glasgow pass in the 66th minute to put Guyana ahead.

    The Golden Jaguars doubled the lead a minute later courtesy of Liam Gordon’s dazzling solo effort which he finished off with a close range effort.

    Moore completed his brace in the 71st with a flick of the ball inside the box to redirect Nathan Moriah-Welsh’s pass.

    However, Carlos Bernardez pulled one back for Belize in the 88th, as he rose above defenders to head home Jahryl Smith’s weighted cross.

    The win moved the Golden Jaguars up to third place in the group, behind Nicaragua and Panama, on six points each.