France head coach Didier Deschamps chooses not to call up Karim Benzema replacement before FIFA World Cup opener
France will not call up a replacement for Karim Benzema after the Ballon d'Or winner was ruled out of the World Cup with a thigh injury, head coach Didier Deschamps has confirmed.
Having already seen midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante ruled out, France lost Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku after naming their 26-man squad for the competition, but the most severe blow was still to come as Benzema was forced to leave their camp after failing to complete Saturday's training session.
With Benzema facing three weeks on the sidelines, reports suggested France would decide whether to call up another attacker on Sunday, but Deschamps is content with his existing options.
"It's obviously a big blow. Karim had done everything, so had we. He was in the session and with an almost innocuous gesture, he felt muscle pain on the other leg," Deschamps told Telefoot.
"The exams unfortunately confirmed too much damage compared to the deadlines that await us.
"Will he be replaced? No. We have seven to eight attacking players."
De ma vie je n’ai jamais abandonné mais ce soir il faut que je pense à l’équipe comme je l’ai toujours fait alors la raison me dit de laisser ma place à quelqu’un qui pourra aider notre groupe à faire une belle Coupe du Monde. Merci pour tous vos messages de soutien pic.twitter.com/SBalX0juAH— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) November 19, 2022
Alongside 2018 World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele, France can call upon Kingsley Coman, Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram as attacking options.
Benzema has endured a frustrating season, missing several of Real Madrid's games after sustaining a knee injury in September before being plagued by muscle fatigue in the build-up to the World Cup.
Deschamps insists France's medical staff should not shoulder the blame for his latest injury, adding: "I know that you are looking for controversy, but everything has been done [for Benzema to be fit].
"It happened in the game, not even on an acceleration or a strike. It can happen, it's never the right time, it's not a relapse.
"He has a concern on the other side, which prevents him from staying with us. It's never fun, it doesn't make you smile.
"We had already lost Christopher, but we have a goal, the group knows very well what awaits us. We have a quality group. I am convinced of it, I have confidence in them."
Deschamps offered a more positive update on the fitness of Raphael Varane, saying the Manchester United defender "will be available" for Tuesday's Group D opener against Australia.
Varane had been a doubt for the tournament after suffering a leg injury in the Red Devils' Premier League draw with Chelsea last month, but he completed his first collective training session since meeting up with Les Bleus on Saturday.