Dropped Silvestre joins the critics of Domenech's style

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The Independent Football

The France defender Mikaël Silvestre has become the latest player to launch a verbal assault on the national coach, Raymond Domenech, after he was left out of the squad for the friendly with Poland tonight.

The France defender Mikaël Silvestre has become the latest player to launch a verbal assault on the national coach, Raymond Domenech, after he was left out of the squad for the friendly with Poland tonight.

The 27-year-old Manchester United player, who looked out of sorts in last month's World Cup qualifier against Cyprus, has followed the lead of the Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires in claiming that the new French coach lacks communication skills.

"I am not disappointed [about not being called up], I am infuriated," Silvestre said. "There is a lot of communication between the coach and the press but none within the team. I went to see the coach but there was no communication.

"We all try to follow the little rules he gives us. Just like Robert [Pires] said, the atmosphere is mixed, but hopefully things will get better soon."

Like Pires, however, Silvestre has made it clear he has no intention of retiring from international action. "I am not giving up on the French team," he added. "I am only 27 and I remain optimistic."

Domenech took Silvestre's comments in his stride,saying: "Everyone has the right to express himself. My conscience is clear."

Domenech will be aiming to achieve his first victory at home since replacing Jacques Santini after France lost their European title in June.

"This is a friendly match but we're going to take it like a qualifying game," he said. "We're not going to play this one down. There are no points to take but we need to win it."

France have seen several key players retire, including their talisman Zinedine Zidane, since they lost to the eventual Euro 2004 winners Greece in the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Les Bleus have been a shadow of the team that dominated world football by winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 after the influential defenders Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu and Marcel Desailly also retired from international football.

"When you lose 70 per cent of a team you can't expect things to work fine right away," said the defender Willy Sagnol, who is making his comeback for France after an injury lay-off.

France are still unbeaten under Domenech, but badly need a good result at the Stade de France tonight to boost their flagging morale, as they have not looked convincing in their first few qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup after two wins and two draws.

They have not won at home at all since Domenech took over in July, having drawn against Bosnia, in a friendly, Israel and the Republic of Ireland. Domenech's only victories have been over minnows the Faroe Islands and Cyprus away.

France (probable, 4-3-3): Landreau; Sagnol, Givet, Squillaci, Evra; Vieira, Pedretti, Mavuba; Giuly, Saha, Henry.

Referee: Manuel Bartolo Faustino Benquerenca (Portugal).

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