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Yoann Gourcuff receives another chance with France

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PARIS (AP) -France coach Didier Deschamps has given playmaker Yoann Gourcuff another chance to resurrect his international career by including him in the squad to play Italy in next week's friendly.

Gourcuff has struggled with loss of form and injuries since his standout year in helping Bordeaux to the league title four seasons ago, leading to comparisons with famed No. 10 Zinedine Zidane.

Former France coach Laurent Blanc kept faith with him for several months last season, but then left him out from his squad for the European Championship.

But Gourcuff has been in good form since returning to the Lyon side after a spell out because of a knee injury. He was outstanding in the 5-2 thrashing of Bastia last weekend.

"He made a good start to the season in August before getting injured, and he's been playing well recently," Deschamps said Thursday. "I want to have a look at him in the squad before the important matches next year."

The 26-year-old Gourcuff is set to win his 30th cap and will look to add to his internationally tally of four goals. The continued absence of Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby due to injury means Gourcuff has an opportunity to stake his claim for a permanent midfield berth.

Deschamps has rested striker Karim Benzema for Wednesday's match after he slightly strained his groin while playing for Real Madrid last weekend.

"It was more sensible to let him recover and not to take any risks," said Deschamps, who replaced Benzema in attack with Lille forward Dimitri Payet. "I don't think (coach) Jose Mourinho will play him (this weekend), so I took this decision with respect to the little injury he picked up last Sunday."

But there was still no call-up for Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa or Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri, who has served a three-match ban for unruly behavior at Euro 2012 in which he insulted a journalist in a profanity-laced tirade.

France was eliminated by reigning world and European champion Spain at Euro 2012, but has made a good start to qualifying for the 2016 World Cup, beating Finland and Belarus before drawing 1-1 away to Spain last month thanks to substitute Olivier Giroud's last-gasp header.

With Benzema out, the Arsenal striker, who scored with a diving header away to Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday, is likely to start the match in Parma.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Lille), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Christophe Jallet (Paris Saint-Germain), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle) Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).

Forwards: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Dimitri Payet (Lille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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