France’s World Cup ambitions were dealt a significant blow yesterday when winger Franck Ribéry failed to overcome a back injury and was ruled out of the squad.
Coach Didier Deschamps had hoped Ribéry would play a part in the friendly against Jamaica tomorrow, but the Bayern Munich winger was replaced by Montpellier’s Rémy Cabella.
Cabella was on the reserve list but has made only one substitute appearance for France. In another setback for Deschamps, attacking midfielder Clement Grenier was also withdrawn with a recurrence of a groin injury that has hampered him all season for Lyons.
The 23-year-old tore his right groin in training on Thursday and has been replaced by Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has never played for France.
Both call-ups are a further snub for the Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri, whom Deschamps has refused to pick as he sees Nasri as a troublemaker.
“We have to remain ambitious,” Deschamps said. “Obviously with Ribéry at 100 per cent we’re a better team, but we’ll try and be a good team without him.
“I’m very sad for [Ribéry and Grenier],” he added. “I wasn’t expecting this. If they were here it’s because I was counting on them, and the signs were very positive.”
Deschamps said both players were distraught when they realised they would not be on the plane to Brazil. “How do you think they felt? They’re missing out on the World Cup,” Deschamps said. “Of course there are worse things in life, but they are the first to be affected by it.”
Ribéry missed the previous two friendlies — a 4-0 win against Norway and a 1-1 draw against Paraguay on Sunday — but Deschamps was optimistic the 31-year-old would recover in time to play against Jamaica in Lille. Ribéry had shown “positive signs of improvement” this week after increasing “the intensity of his work,” the coach said.
However, that was when the winger was training alone and yesterday, when he stepped up his routine, he suddenly pulled up in pain.
“Franck had felt a lot better but his situation got much worse as we started to try and get him to take part in collective training,” Deschamps said. “He is unable to train for a few weeks now and even less so to play.”
His final appearance of the season for Bayern was as a substitute in the German Cup final win against Borussia Dortmund on May 17. He had been rested since the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final on April 29.
Ribéry has 16 goals in 81 appearances for France and is the team’s best attacking player. That mantle now rests with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.