Cantona kept out in the cold by France

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The Independent Online
Eric Cantona is unlikely to play for France in this summer's European Championships in England despite being praised by the French national coach, Aime Jacquet, for his current performances.

Cantona has been in superb form recently, scoring seven goals in his last eight games for Manchester United in their rise to the top of the Premiership table, but Jacquet told the French sports daily L'Equipe he had no reason to change his mind about calling him up.

Jacquet, careful not to alienate Cantona, left the door slightly ajar in case injuries prompted him to fall back on the player he once appointed team captain but his statements left little room for doubt.

Jacquet, who has not spoken to Cantona or his club manager, Alex Ferguson, for three months, said he had already made his decision on Cantona. "I have already said that his presence would force me to change everything and that it is not the right time," he said.

Jacquet said Cantona was successful as a goalscorer in England because there was no tight marking and he enjoyed a freedom he would not get in international competition. "I know how to use Eric - as a playmaker and not as a striker." he said.

Cantona won the last of his 45 caps for France, who are unbeaten in 20 matches, in January last year but he lost his place when he was suspended after his assault on a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park later that month.

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