Paris (AFP) – Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tanguy Ndombele were recalled to the France squad on Thursday as the World Cup holders begin their campaign to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar with a triple-header of matches this month.
Dembele, 23, was part of the France squad that won the World Cup in Russia in 2018 but has not played for Les Bleus since December of that year. He is rewarded for his recent form with Barcelona and a rare, lengthy run free from injury.
Ndombele won the last of his six caps in June 2019, shortly before joining Tottenham from Lyon.
The duo feature in an expanded squad of 26 named by coach Didier Deschamps, with Paul Pogba also included as the Manchester United midfielder returns following more than a month out injured.
France begin their qualifying campaign at home to Ukraine next Wednesday, March 24, behind closed doors at the Stade de France.
They will then make the long trip to play Kazakhstan away on Sunday, March 28 and will travel straight from there to Bosnia and Herzegovina for another qualifier in Sarajevo three days later.
The France squad were given an exemption allowing them to travel outside the European Union for these matches and avoid having to spend a week in self-isolation on their return.
That is despite the French league this week announcing that clubs would not release players for upcoming internationals scheduled outside the EU and European Economic Area (EAA), which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
France are also due to come up against Finland in the five-team Group D, with only the winners qualifying directly for the finals.
Teenage Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga and Lyon’s Houssem Aouar were among those left out of the squad as they will instead feature for France at the upcoming Under-21 Euro in Hungary.
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Fulham/ENG on loan from Paris Saint-Germain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Lille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton/ENG), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/GER), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona/ESP), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/ENG), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/FRA), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona/ESP), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Anthony Martial (Manchester United/ENG), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)