Doha: France national team coach Didier Deschamps has expressed his sympathy for veteran striker Karim Benzema, who has been forced out of the World Cup after tearing a muscle in his left thigh on Saturday.
The 34-year-old Ballon D'Or winner, who didn't form part of the triumphant French squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, flew back to Madrid on Sunday morning after a scan confirmed the extent of the injury, meaning his last chance of playing in the finals has now vanished, reports Xinhua.
"I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective," said Deschamps, who tried to remain upbeat.
"Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us," he said.
France has been hit badly by injuries in the run-up to Qatar, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante both out, with Pogba failing to recover from a knee operation, while Kante has not recovered from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, forward Christopher Nkunku was injured last Tuesday and replaced by Kolo Muani, while Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to get over a hamstring problem, and Raphael Varane is still a doubt for Tuesday's game against Australia.
Benzema posted on Instagram: "I have never given up but tonight I have to think about the team, as I have always done, so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group make a good World Cup."
Deschamps has said he won't call up a replacement for Benzema, telling the TV show Telefoot that he didn't need one. "This is a quality group: I have confidence in them in everything they do, both on and off the pitch. They are united."