Football: Anelka included in France squad

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The Independent Online
NICOLAS ANELKA, who made his international debut only last month in Sweden, was the surprise inclusion when France's preliminary 28-man squad for the World Cup finals was announced yesterday.

Anelka, joined in the squad by his Arsenal team-mates Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira, may not make it to next month's finals because France's coach, Aime Jacquet, will reduce the squad to 22 by 2 June.

The Chelsea defender Franck Leboeuf was also chosen, along with West Ham's goalkeeper, Bernard Lama, but there was no place in the squad for either the Upton Park club's new signing, the midfielder Marc Keller, or Tottenham's David Ginola.

Ian Wright will have the opportunity to increase his chances of pushing his way into England's World Cup squad when he plays for Arsenal in their Premiership match at Liverpool tonight.

The club's record goalscorer came on as a substitute during Sunday's 4-0 victory over Everton that brought Arsenal the title, but he has not started a first-team game since mid-January.

France's selection of the Arsenal trio - Anelka in particular - reflects their successful season, but success brings increased pressures to a club and its staff as well as reward. Milan have made an approach for the Highbury club's Premiership-winning coach, Arsene Wenger. However, Arsenal have responded by opening talks with the Frenchman on a five-year contract that is believed to be worth pounds 5m. It would follow on from his current deal, which runs until the end of next season.

The new Scottish Premiership finally became a reality when the Scottish Football Association approved the historic change. The first new professional league in Scotland for 108 years will start next season with 10 clubs.

The SFA Council and members yesterday ratified their executive committee's approval of the breakaway teams' proposals to bring to an end a saga that began late last year when the Premier Division clubs announced their desire to resign from the Scottish League and join new set-up, enabling them to control television and sponsorship rights.