Deschamps calm despite more midfield problems


PARIS (AP) -France coach Didier Deschamps remains upbeat ahead of a World Cup qualifier against defending champion Spain despite midfielder Lassana Diarra's withdrawal from the squad.

Diarra pulled out late Sunday with back problems and was replaced by uncapped Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Clement Chantome.

"We received an email from his club, from his doctor and his coach, telling us that he was unable to travel after the match he played in yesterday," Deschamps said. "He's had back problems for a while. As soon as we found out he couldn't travel I took the decision to call Chantome.

"Despite a high level of competition at PSG, he plays fairly regularly. He can use the ball well. Now he has to repeat on the international level that which he does well with his club."

Yohan Cabaye is now the only midfielder in the squad who has made more than 10 appearances for France, with the more experienced Abou Diaby and Rio Mavuba out injured.

"It's not a worry, it's a reality," Deschamps said. "I'm not worried and I don't want my players to be. We're going to give it our all with the weapons we have."

France plays Japan in a friendly on Friday and then faces Spain in a qualifier in Madrid four days later.

France lost to Spain at the European Championship this year, offering little in attack and struggling to cope with Spain's intricate passing game.

Since that loss, Deschamps has replaced Laurent Blanc as coach and France has won its opening World Cup qualifiers, at Finland and at home against Belarus.

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