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Attoub back in France reckoning

Stade Francais prop David Attoub has been recalled to the France squad for the RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy, with uncapped duo Yoann Maestri and Wesley Fofana also included for the February 4 encounter.

Attoub was not part of the initial 30-man group named earlier this month by new coach Philippe Saint-Andre, but has been drafted in due to Luc Ducalcon's lack of match fitness.

The 30-year-old, who received a 70-week ban for an eye-gouging incident during a Heineken Cup match against Ulster in December 2009, has not played for his country since making his debut against Romania in June 2006.

Asked why he had turned to Attoub after having left him off the original list, Saint-Andre replied: "Because Luc Ducalcon has not played since January 7.

"We announced the list of 30 players two days before. We have been consistent and we really felt that during the time in between Luc was in need of game time with Castres.

"However, David Attoub is the in-form French prop since the beginning of the season.

"We also know that the Italians are a solid side, with a very good scrum and (Martin) Castrogiovanni the spearhead. We wanted to have two strong props in Nicolas Mas and David Attoub."

Saint-Andre stuck with 17 members of the squad which got France to the World Cup final in New Zealand last October, but there were no places for Clermont Auvergne lock Julien Pierre, Stade Toulousain full-back Clement Poitrenaud or Montpellier flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo.

"It is quite coherent. Alexis Palisson can be disappointed but we have players who are in great form such as Lionel Beauxis and Julien Malzieu," added Saint-Andre, who will announce his starting line-up on Tuesday for the championship curtain-raiser at the Stade de France.

"There is a strong framework which will play the tournament. But it is possible that two or three players will be brought in for the second match against Ireland."

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