Defender Zouma called up for France’s World Cup qualifiers

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PARIS (AP) – Raphaël Varane being absent injured for a few weeks, France coach Didier Deschamps recalled Kurt Zouma on…

PARIS (AP) – Raphaël Varane being injured for a few weeks, France coach Didier Deschamps recalled Kurt Zouma on Thursday for the next World Cup qualifiers.

Following his recent return from a groin injury, Varane limped with a hamstring problem during Manchester United’s Champions League clash against Atalanta on Tuesday and is expected to be out for around a month.

This means Zouma, who plays in central defense for Premier League club West Ham, could win his 11th and 12th international caps for the Blues against Kazakhstan at Parc des Princes on November 13 and Finland in Helsinki three days later.

Zouma’s club teammate Alphonse Areola has also been drafted into the squad, though likely only as a replacement for No.1 Hugo Lloris, as No.2 Mike Maignan is out due to an injury to the team. left wrist.

“Even though he doesn’t play every game (for West Ham), he plays well when he does,” Deschamps said of Areola, who has three caps.

N’Golo Kante’s return to midfield means Jordan Veretout is out. Deschamps also left out Manchester United striker Anthony Martial to make room for Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman and did not recall veteran Olivier Giroud – despite four league goals in seven games for the AC Milan.

Forward Christopher Nkunku has also been overlooked despite a strong performance this season for Leipzig, including an early goal in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

“Christopher is a player that we are following closely, he is playing well and confirmed that on Wednesday,” said Deschamps. “He’s not in (the team) but he’s a serious candidate. I can only encourage him to keep doing what he is doing.

Meanwhile, brothers Lucas and Theo Hernandez have been called up together again, after helping France win the Nations League last month. They started together in the semi-final against Belgium.

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Team:

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Benoit Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham).

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Jules Kounde (Seville), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Kurt Zouma (West Ham)

Midfielder: Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurélien Tchouameni (Monaco).

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Moussa Diaby, Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (PSG).

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