Zidane: We can do without Pires

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The Independent Online

Zinedine Zidane believes that France can get by at the World Cup without the Arsenal winger Robert Pires, who has admitted he will not take part in the tournament following the serious knee injury he suffered in last weekend's FA Cup win over Newcastle.

Zidane, who will form a vital part of France's bid to retain the World Cup, said: "Our players will be able to make up for the absence of Robert. "Unfortunately, we cannot change things, but the French team is not about Zidane or Pierre, Paul or Jacques. There are 23 players and this group represents the force of Les Bleus."

France resumed their warm-up to this summer's tournament in Japan and Korea with a 5-0 thrashing of Scotland at the Stade de France on Wednesday. Zidane, who has now drawn level with the 72 caps won by French legend Michel Platini, claims they are not scared by any of the challengers to their crown.

"Without doubt, we fear no-one, but that does not mean we have to have a superiority complex," the Real Madrid midfielder said. "We are aware of being a great team and we know we have a chance to go down in history by winning a second successive World Cup."

The former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar could make a comeback after registering himself for the South African club Hellenic that he coaches.

Club officials confirmed that Grobbelaar was registered as a player before the premier league's weekend transfer deadline as back-up goalkeeper for the relegation-threatened Cape Town club.

The 44-year-old last played at the English non-league club Northwich Victoria before embarking on a coaching career in South Africa three years ago.

The decision came after a bid by Hellenic to sign New Zealand international goalkeeper Mike Utting fell through.

Grobbelaar was known as the clown prince during an eccentric goalkeeping career that saw him play in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada before being signed by Liverpool, with whom he won both league championship and European Cup honours.

The former Zimbabwe international was fired as coach of Pretoria club SuperSport United last October but took over at Hellenic in December as they floundered in the relegation zone.

The Netherlands captain, Frank De Boer, is losing patience over talks to extend his contract with Barcelona. The 31-year-old defender, free to leave at the end of June, is keen to sort out his future. However, Barcelona appear unwilling to offer him more than a one-year extension to his current deal, whereas De Boer would prefer two.

"I will be 32 soon and I can play at the highest level for two more years," De Boer said. "We can take it year by year when I am 34. I want to stay here, but for my tranquillity and that of my family, I need to know something as soon as possible."

De Boer, who joined the club two years ago, hopes the goal he scored to defeat Spain on Wednesday night will be the first of many. "It's about time I scored again for Barcelona, I have had some bad luck this year," he said.

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