Thierry Henry forced into a limited squad review of the French under-23 football team

The situation is far from simple for Thierry Henry. The coach of the French men’s under-23 football team (U23) has the task of preparing his troops for the Olympic tournament, which will start on July 24, against the United States. And he has only one preparation match left before the deadline: Monday March 25, against the same United States, at 9:05 p.m., in Sochaux (Doubs).

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The former international striker still has no idea of ​​the composition of the squad he will take to the Games this summer. What he is sure of is that it will be made up of eighteen players and four reserves. Which ? Impossible to say. Between the jokers authorized to be part of the list (three men aged over 23) and the goodwill of clubs not required to release their members for the deadline – this taking place outside the official calendar of the International Federation football (FIFA) – the coach finds himself faced with an equation whose variables are today unknown.

The period is all the more complicated as, since the start of the gathering, its collective has not been spared from forfeitures, physical problems and a flu virus. Georginio Rutter (Leeds United) and Joris Chotard (Montpellier), injured at club level, had to throw in the towel, withdrawing even before the start of the rally. Then Chelsea defender Malo Gusto, ill, left his partners on the eve of the match won against Ivory Coast on Friday (3-2).

During the match, Paris Saint-Germain winger Bradley Barcola was hit in the left thigh. Replaced before the half-hour mark, he suffered a hamstring injury and is expected to be unavailable for at least two weeks. His presence for the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League against FC Barcelona on April 10 is still uncertain. Finally, Leny Yoro (Lille Olympique Sporting Club) and Enzo Millot (VfB Stuttgart) also fell ill. To the point that the group trained on the lawn of the Auguste-Bonal stadium, in Montbéliard, at eighteen, instead of twenty-three, late Sunday afternoon.

“We are not here to make players injured”

“We play tomorrow and we tried to call two or three players as reinforcements, without mentioning names. They are on the weekend or they have not trained for two or three days. We are not going to take any risks at this level. We are preparing for some players to be able to play both matches [de préparation]. It’s not ideal, but this virus is falling on usexplained Thierry Henry at a press conference. Are we going to kill guys so they won’t feel good afterwards? »

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Monday evening, the coach will try, willy-nilly, to carry out a squad review that he had announced before this international sequence. Manu Koné, midfielder for Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bundesliga club (German championship), will be captain. Already a starter during the U23’s sluggish success over the Ivorians in Châteauroux, he is one of the six players born in 2001 called up for the rally. He recovers the armband from the arm of goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, replacing at Sochaux.

In goal, Guillaume Restes, 19, holder of the position in Toulouse, should logically play the match against the United States. A way to preserve Lucas Chevalier before the Northern derby in Ligue 1 between Lille, his club, and Lens, Friday (9 p.m.). There is no question for Thierry Henry of offending professional training, when he will need their authorization to constitute his list. “We are not here to return injured or sick players to their clubs. We have to deal with that”he insisted.

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