Wednesday 23 January 2019

French manager Didier Deschamps defends 'complete midfielder' Paul Pogba amid concern over his form

Didier Deschamps shakes the hand of Paul Pogba as he is substituted
Didier Deschamps shakes the hand of Paul Pogba as he is substituted

France boss Didier Deschamps insists he has "no worries" about the form of Paul Pogba ahead of the World Cup.

A lacklustre performance from midfielder Pogba in France's warm-up friendly against Russia 2018 absentees Italy in Nice last week caused some concern.

Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele scored for Les Blues at the Allianz Riviera where Pogba was far from his best.

But Deschamps jumped to his defence on Friday, ahead of France's friendly in Lyon on Saturday against the United States, another team who have been World Cup regulars but have missed out of qualifying this time.

He said of Pogba's showing against Italy: "He knows it, I've spoken to him, that it wasn't his best match, that's for sure."

But Deschamps added: "I know that we speak about Paul a lot. Effectively he's a midfielder, he's not a number 10, he's not a forward. He can score and help others to score.

"He's a complete midfielder, who can do everything. But he can't do everything, there's a nuance."

Deschamps' protection of the Manchester United midfielder, stressing he is a player with all the ability in the world but underlining he cannot be expected to run every match, may resonate with the former Juventus man.

Pogba has said he wants a starring role at the World Cup and Deschamps said "there are no worries" where he is concerned, although France will want the 25-year-old purring for their opening match at the tournament, which comes against Australia on June 16 in Kazan.

France were visited at their Clairefontaine training camp by president Emmanuel Macron this week, before making the journey to Lyon to step up their preparations.

French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its website that Pogba is expected to start the game against the United States, in a midfield trio behind the striking triumvirate of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.

The US have lost all three of their previous matches against France and will do well to avoid another defeat.

Dave Sarachan's young squad, with an average age of barely 23, are coming off a 2-1 defeat to the Republic of Ireland last weekend.

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