N'Zogbia called up for France friendly

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Wigan midfielder Charles N'Zogbia is aiming to capitalise on the absence of France's World Cup players by impressing new coach Laurent Blanc after being called up for Les Bleus' friendly against Norway next week.

N'Zogbia is one of 15 uncapped players in Blanc's first squad since succeeding Raymond Domenech as coach. The raft of changes stem from Blanc's decision to suspend all 23 players involved in a World Cup campaign which was plagued by failure and infighting.

N'Zogbia was thrilled after hearing the news of his inclusion, and told L'Equipe: "I've been waiting for this for a long time. This proves that, with hard work, you can get there. Even though my inclusion is due to the absence of the World Cup players, it is a good chance to show what I can do. We will see how it goes in Norway, but I know very well that now that I have been included by Les Bleus, the hardest thing will be staying there."

Other players in line to make their first appearances include Roma forward Jeremy Menez, Lyon full-back Aly Cissokho and Paris St Germain defender Mamadou Sakho.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Anelka said his "head was gone" during the infamous row with Raymond Domenech which led to him being sent home from the World Cup, but denied swearing at his former national team boss.

The Chelsea striker was expelled from the French camp after the spat which occurred at half-time of the Group A match against Mexico, with Anelka claiming the argument centred over his positioning on the pitch. The squad subsequently revolted against Domenech, refusing to train just two days before their final group game against hosts South Africa.

In an interview with France Soir, Anelka recalled: "We returned to the dressing room and, for five minutes, the players talked. The coach arrived and said to me: 'Damn, Nico, I've told you to stop dropping back and stay up front'. I told him if I stay there, I do not get a touch of the ball, and said: 'Stop telling me to stay up front. I won't stay up front'. It carried on, but at that moment my head was gone. I wasn't even listening to what he said."

Domenech's immediate reaction, Anelka claims, was to dismiss him from the squad despite the efforts of captain Patrice Evra to pacify both parties. "He said: 'Go, it's fine, leave' and asked one of his assistants to get Dede [Andre-Pierre Gignac] ready," the Chelsea striker continued.

"I said: 'No problem, deal with your team'. Pat [Evra] and Franck [Ribery] were next to me and they said: 'Stop, Nico, calm down. Let it go, shut up!' Then Pat asked me to put my jersey back on and said to the coach that these things happen all the time, that he should not react on a whim and make me leave. Again, the coach didn't listen and made his changes."