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Barthez still first choice for France

Fabien Barthez remains France's first-choice goalkeeper despite uncertainty surrounding his future at Manchester United. The France coach, Jacques Santini, yesterday named Barthez in his squad for the match against Switzerland next Wednesday.

Santini will pick Barthez ahead of Lyon's Gregory Coupet for the friendly, and has backed the 32-year-old to justify his selection, despite the fact that Tim Howard may play in Saturday's opening Premiership match at Old Trafford against Bolton.

Santini said: "Fabien remains confident and very motivated. Ferguson hasn't given me any clue about his personal view of Barthez's situation. As far as his situation with the French national team is concerned ... he is our number one."