Abidal returns to France squad

PARIS - Full-back Eric Abidal was named in France's squad on Wednesday for the first time since their World Cup fiasco, for next week's friendly against England at Wembley.

New coach Laurent Blanc had previously overlooked the defender since taking charge of his first match in August.

"He has been playing more lately and has regained a place in Barcelona's starting line-up," Blanc told a news conference. "I think he is a lad who can still make a difference."

Girondins Bordeaux's Benoit Tremoulinas has been dropped and fellow left-back, Olympique Lyon's Aly Cissokho, is out through injury.

"They are always tough games (against England)," said Blanc. "They will be very motivated to beat us especially since our comprehensive 2-0 win there in 1999."

France were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in South Africa in June when the players also went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka after the striker was kicked out of the squad for insulting then-coach Raymond Domenech.


Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille)

Defenders: Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon), Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (AS Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (Paris St Germain), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Eric Abidal (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Girondins Bordeaux), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Yoann Gourcuff (Olympique Lyon), Yann Mvila (Stade Rennes), Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris Saint-Germain), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Loic Remy (Olympique Marseille), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille), Dimitri Payet (St Etienne)