Ribery and Evra unlikely to start

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SAINT-DENIS - France coach Laurent Blanc has hinted Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra will not start Tuesday's friendly against Croatia, possibly sparing them from boos in their first home game since the World Cup farce.

Ribery and Evra started Friday's Euro qualifier in Luxembourg, which France won 2-0 to extend their Group D lead, but Blanc said he would make changes in midfield and up front with only the goalkeeper and central defence left alone.

"Tomorrow (keeper) Hugo (Lloris) will play, he needs playing time. It is very important for a keeper to build confidence and learn to play with his defence," Blanc told a news conference at the Stade de France on Monday.

"So the keeper and the defence will be the same as against Luxembourg. Well, the central defence, I mean."

Left-back Evra could therefore be left out of the starting lineup on Tuesday alongside right-back Bacary Sagna, with centre halves Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami poised to start.

Evra was suspended for five matches for his involvement in the South Africa fiasco last year when France players went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka, who had insulted then coach Raymond Domenech.

Ribery, who was handed a three-match ban by the French federation, will probably not start the match either although it is possible the duo will come off the bench.

"Almost all the players in the squad will have participated in both games," said Blanc, who hopes his team will be strong enough to weather the Stade de France storm should Evra and Ribery come on and be whistled by the crowd.

"We have to get ready for every scenario. If it's negative, we will have to overturn the situation with our football," he said.

Blanc added that there would be not hard feelings when he crosses paths with Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, who deprived him of a 1998 World Cup final appearance.

In France's 2-1 win over Croatia in the semi-final, Bilic fell theatrically after Blanc flicked him on the chin and the Frenchman was sent off and missed the showpiece.

"It's in the past. He says it was my fault and he was right. There will be no hard feelings," said Blanc.