Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

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Deschamps backs misfiring Pogba for France start

By Phil Blanche

Manchester United's Paul Pogba is almost certain to start France's World Cup opener against Australia, boss Didier Deschamps has confirmed.

The midfielder's inconsistent season at Old Trafford has not broken Deschamps' faith, while Olivier Giroud is set to be available on Saturday too despite suffering a head injury.

Pogba was jeered by his own fans during a 3-1 friendly win over Italy and failed to inspire in a drab 1-1 draw against the United States.

He made 25 Premier League starts for United last season and still has his critics following an £89 million move from Juventus in 2016 but, when asked, Deschamps said it is "very likely" Pogba will start next weekend.

He added: "Paul Pogba has responded rather well to my expectations. I defended him after the match in Nice against Italy. He was much better yesterday against the USA."

The boss also offered assurances over Chelsea forward Giroud's fitness after he was forced off following a clash of heads with USA defender - and Blues team-mate - Matt Miazga.

"Olivier Giroud has a beautiful cut of six centimetres. But he will be able to face Australia," Deschamps said.

France also face Peru and Denmark in Group C.

Deschamps' side dominated against the United States but fell behind to Julian Green's smart finish past Spurs' Hugo Lloris.

Forward Kylian Mbappe, 19, drew the hosts level on 78 minutes, converting Benjamin Pavard's low cross. Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba both had several attempts from long range but were left frustrated by the visitors.

Pogba struck the post, while Nabil Fekir was denied in the final moments of the game by goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

Belfast Telegraph

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