Clermont-Ferrand, France // France striker Karim Benzema will find out next month whether he is eligible to play for his country at Euro 2016, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet revealed on Tuesday.
“We’re going to talk with our legal advisers,” said Le Graet during a news conference in Clermont-Ferrand. “We will make a decision (on Benzema’s eligibility) before April 15.”
The Real Madrid star was indefinitely suspended from the France team in December after he was placed under investigation over an attempt to bribe France teammate Mathieu Valbuena for a sex-tape. Benzema has been accused of complicity in the attempt.
Legal restrictions barring Benzema to come into contact with Valbuena were lifted earlier this month, but the forward remains excluded from national team duty.
His return to the France squad remains the subject of debate, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Sports Minister Patrick Kanner arguing that the conditions for Benzema’s re-inclusion “have not yet been met”.
Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets withdraws from Spain friendlies
Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets on Tuesday withdrew from the Spain squad for upcoming friendlies against Italy and Romania with a hand injury.
The 27-year-old had played wearing a cast in his past two matches for Barcelona, with his departure from the Spain squad announced on the national team’s official website.
“Two weeks ago, Sergio Busquets suffered a fracture and dislocation to a finger on his right hand,” said the head of Spain’s medical staff, Oscar Luis Celada, in a video post.
“We were aware of the injury and given the tests recently carried out and taking into account that they’re two friendlies, we think pulling (him) out of the team camp maximises any chance of preventing a relapse,” the doctor added.
Busquets didn’t train with the rest of the team on Monday and will not be replaced in the squad by Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque.
The two-time defending European champions face Italy in Udine on Thursday before travelling to Cluj to play Romania on Sunday as they step up preparations for Euro 2016 in France.
QPR’s Conor Washington hoping for chance with Northern Ireland
The prospect of grabbing a place in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad will be on Conor Washington’s mind if he makes his international bow in the city he once called home.
The 23-year-old QPR forward is back in Cardiff this week with Michael O’Neill’s squad ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Dragons, who are the first of four friendly opponents for Northern Ireland before they head to France this summer.
It may be an unfamiliar group for the uncapped striker, but Washington can relate to his surroundings having lived in the Welsh capital when his major break in the game came with Newport.
“It is a bit ironic that I could make my international debut where this journey started,” noted Washington, who qualifies for Northern Ireland under the grandparent rule.
“I lived literally across from the hotel so it is a bit strange, but that would add to the memory of it.”
Washington moved to QPR in January after scoring 15 times in 31 appearances for Peterborough.
Everton’s Phil Jagielka fighting for England spot
Everton captain Phil Jagielka hopes to force his way back into England reckoning despite believing coach Roy Hodgson has already settled on three of his back four.
The 33-year-old centre-back’s last international appearance was in the Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Lithuania in October.
Shortly afterwards injury sidelined him for more than two months, meaning he missed England’s two friendlies against France and Spain.
He has been recalled for the forthcoming games against Germany and Holland but accepts he has a fight on his hands to win back a starting place before this summer’s tournament.
“We will find out more in these two games, if not the three before the finals,” said Jagielka.
“You would have to ask Roy [but] it looks like you have probably got Nathaniel Clyne, Gaz (Gary Cahill), Chris (Smalling) and a left-back.
“That is probably the starting back four with Joe (Hart) in goal.
“Obviously John (Stones) is looking to get back in there as well but I’ve got to think I have a chance.
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