France’s World Cup ambitions were dealt a significant blow yesterday when winger Franck Ribéry failed to overcome a back injury and was ruled out of the squad.
Coach Didier Deschamps had hoped Ribéry would play a part in the friendly against Jamaica tomorrow, but the Bayern Munich winger was replaced by Montpellier’s Rémy Cabella.
Cabella was on the reserve list but has made only one substitute appearance for France. In another setback for Deschamps, attacking midfielder Clement Grenier was also withdrawn with a recurrence of a groin injury that has hampered him all season for Lyons.
The 23-year-old tore his right groin in training on Thursday and has been replaced by Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has never played for France. Both call-ups are a further snub for the Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri, whom Deschamps has refused to pick as he sees Nasri as a troublemaker.
“We have to remain ambitious,” Deschamps said. “Obviously with Ribéry at 100 per cent we’re a better team, but we’ll try and be a good team without him.
“I’m very sad for [Ribéry and Grenier],” he added. “I wasn’t expecting this. If they were here it’s because I was counting on them, and the signs were very positive.”
The best players struggling to be ready in time for the World Cup
The best players struggling to be ready in time for the World Cup
1/8 Cristiano Ronaldo
The Real Madrid player has the capacity to take Portugal deep into the competition all by himself. If he's fit that is. The Portuguese FA have confirmed the £80m man is suffering from tendinosis in his left knee, as well as a muscular problem in his left thigh. It's seen him miss the recent warm-up match with Greece and he's expected to miss Portugal's other remaining warm-up games. Portugal's first game is against Germany on June 16.
2/8 Robin van Persie
The Netherlands forward has been forced to play down concerns after he was withdrawn at half-time in the recent warm-up match with Wales. The Manchester United striker said it was just a precaution, but that he was sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury towards the end of the season and reports of a groin problem persisting, the Dutchman has to be considered a doubt. Louis van Gaal will be keeping his fingers crossed that his side's leading striker will be ready for their first game against Spain on June 13.
3/8 Luis Suarez
There is no doubt over the injury concerns surrounding Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker underwent knee surgery and is in a race to return in time. Varied reports over his recovery have been emanating from the Uruguay camp, with England among those paying close attention with the teams due to meet in Sao Paulo on June 19. His Liverpool team-mates in the England squad have said they expect to face the Premier League golden boot winner at the World Cup.
4/8 Wayne Rooney
England's talisman was shunted out to the left in the most recent warm-up match against Ecuador - but it did see him pick up a goal in the 2-2 draw. Questions over the Manchester United striker's fitness in the build-up to the tournament and that he was the only player to start both England's most recent games suggest there are concerns. He looks set to start in England's first game of the tournament against Italy on June 14, but will he be as sharp as he can be?
5/8 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
One England player certainly up against it is Arsenal's Oxlade-Chamberlain. The youngster was hurt in the warm-up match against Ecuador and faces roughly two-weeks on the sidelines.
6/8 Diego Costa
He might have been fit enough to pass a medical for Chelsea but there is uncertainty over whether he will be ready for Spain's first game of the tournament against Netherlands. Vicente del Bosque took something of a risk including the Brazilian born player who is suffering with a thigh muscle problem, particular considering the Spain manager left Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo at home. He and all of Spain will be hoping Costa can replicate the form that helped Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title, rather than see a repeat of when he hobbled off in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
7/8 Manuel Neuer
The Germany goalkeeper has not played since picking up a shoulder injury in the German cup final three weeks ago and is a major doubt for the tournament. Easily the best keeper in the world, the 28-year-old will miss his country's final warm-up game against Armenia. If Neuer, who is yet to train with the team, is ruled out then Borussia Dortmund stopper Roman Weidenfeller will step in.
The Ivory Coast midfielder is struggling to be fit in time for his side's opener against Japan. Toure has been struggling with a thigh injury since mid-April and has not completed a full training session with the Elephants. The dominant 31-year-old, Manchester City's star man in their Premier League title win, went to Qatar for treatment at the end of the season but has not been able to play in either warm-up game against Bosnia or El Salvador.
Deschamps said both players were distraught when they realised they would not be on the plane to Brazil. “How do you think they felt? They’re missing out on the World Cup,” Deschamps said. “Of course there are worse things in life, but they are the first to be affected by it.”
Ribery said on the French Football Federation's official website: "It is like a death in the soul that I am forced to leave the France team and give up on the World Cup."
Ribéry missed the previous two friendlies – a 4-0 win against Norway and a 1-1 draw against Paraguay on Sunday – but Deschamps was optimistic the 31 year old would recover in time to play against Jamaica in Lille. Ribéry had shown “positive signs of improvement” this week after increasing “the intensity of his work,” the coach said.
However, that was when the winger was training alone, and when he stepped up his routine, he suddenly pulled up in pain yesterday.
“Franck had felt a lot better but his situation got much worse as we started to try and get him to take part in collective training,” Deschamps said. “He is unable to train for a few weeks now and even less so to play.”
His final appearance of the season for Bayern was as a substitute in the German Cup final win against Borussia Dortmund on 17 May. He had been rested since the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final on 29 April.
Ribéry has 16 goals in 81 appearances for France and is the team’s best attacking player. That mantle now rests with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.