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France calls up uncapped Ndombele and recalls Sakho

October 4, 2018

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 file photo, Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele challenges for the ball with Apollon's Emilio Zelaya during a Europa League group E soccer match in Decines, near Lyon, central France. It was reported on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 that Ndombele has been called up to play for France for the first time and defender Mamadou Sakho was recalled for a friendly against Iceland and a UEFA Nations League match against Germany. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)

PARIS (AP) — Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has been called up by France for the first time for this month’s friendly against Iceland and UEFA Nations League match against Germany, while defender Mamadou Sakho is back for the world champions after a 2 ½ year absence.

The 21-year-old Ndombele has impressed for his club this season and replaces Corentin Tolisso, who could be sidelined up to six months with a knee injury.

The skillful Ndombele has a busy, industrious style similar to France stalwart N’Golo Kante and reads the game well.

“He’s playing at a very high level. He knows how to do everything and has good stamina,” coach Didier Deschamps said on Thursday. “He’s been more consistent this season, when last season he was more up and down.”

Sakho has been performing well in the English Premier League as a center half for Crystal Palace. He has 28 caps but his last appearance came in March 2016. The former Liverpool defender was once provisionally banned for failing a doping test but the suspension was later annulled by UEFA.

Deschamps has also called up center half Kurt Zouma and left back Lucas Digne, who were left out of France’s World Cup squad. They both play for Premier League Everton.

There was no recall for midfielder Adrien Rabiot despite his impressive performances for Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Rabiot upset Deschamps earlier this year when he asked to be taken off the list of reserves for the World Cup because he felt he deserved to be in the squad.

“The situation is clear, you know what happened. It’s far too early to call him back,” Deschamps said. “His attitude wasn’t something trivial, you have to be responsible for what you do and what you say.”

France faces Iceland in Guingamp on Oct. 11 and hosts Germany at Stade de France five days later.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace), Kurt Zouma (Everton), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Digne (Everton)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven N’Zonzi (Roma), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

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