PARIS - With World Cup rebels Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery back, France go to Luxembourg for a Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday hoping memories of their South Africa debacle are finally forgotten thanks to more on-field success.
World Cup captain Evra and midfielder Ribery were banned for five and three matches respectively for their role in last year's fiasco where France players went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka, who had insulted then coach Raymond Domenech.
Coach Laurent Blanc decided to turn the page when he named his squad to face Luxembourg and Croatia in a friendly four days later by recalling the two 'enfants terribles'.
"They had a certain status in the France team because of their experience. They need humility to return to the group with the same status as everyone else. [If not] I will be uncompromising and will not hesitate to take radical action," said Blanc, who had overlooked Evra for last month's friendly win over Brazil despite the left back's ban ending.
Evra is not expected to regain the captaincy that eventually went to Girondins Bordeaux holding midfielder Alou Diarra and fit-again Ribery, who apologised for his mistakes on Monday, will certainly not take the armband.
"I have been very clear with him. State of mind will also be a criteria for selection. He must be irreproachable like the others," Blanc said of Ribery.
Both players make their return to a squad which have found their stride in Euro 2012 qualifying Group D. They top the standings with nine points from four games, while Luxembourg have a point but have yet to score a goal.
Evra could start Friday's game as usual left-back Eric Abidal has been ruled out following surgery on a liver tumour, while Ribery will be battling it out for a place on the flanks.
Jeremy Menez is a natural candidate on the right as well as Samir Nasri, while Florent Malouda has been a regular on the left wing.
Blanc said he would make himself available to Evra and Ribery should they want to discuss "the new way of life within the squad".
Playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, who reports said had a difficult relationship with Ribery at the World Cup, did not comment on the Bayern Munich player's return but others did.
"They earned it (their place in the squad)," said Diarra.
Right back Bacary Sagna added: "They are human beings like everyone else. They behave like everybody else."
Captain Diarra is hoping Ribery and Gourcuff will sort out their differences so the squad can move forward.
"For the sake of the France team they will have to settle this," he said.
Les Bleus must remember they have to play some football on Friday albeit against a lesser nation.
"We're not living in a perfect world. If people do not get along well or do not spend their holidays together, I do not mind," said Blanc.
"But we have to aim at the same target: Euro 2012."comments