France have offered an encouraging update on Franck Ribéry’s World Cup hopes after the Bayern Munich winger rejoined training with Didier Deschamps’ squad.
Ribéry has been struggling with a back problem and has been following an individual training programme, and Friday’s session marked his return to group work as he attempts to prove his fitness for the tournament in Brazil.
The assistant coach Guy Stéphan told the French radio station RTL: “His progress is going quite well, he’s doing a lot better but he still hasn’t trained with the team. All the most specific and specialised care possible has been taken and is still being taken. He is training with the team on Friday. If everything goes well, he will be there.
“We will get an idea of what he is capable of doing on the field and with the ball, whether he can keep going on Saturday, Sunday etc, etc. It is an important step.”
France also have worries over the Lyon midfielder Clément Grenier, who is having scans on a thigh injury which forced an early end to his session on Thursday. The playmaker missed much of the Ligue 1 run-in with a groin problem and limped off Les Bleus’ training field at Clairefontaine, with the adductor muscle reported to be causing the problem this time.
Should Grenier or Ribéry be forced to sit out the World Cup, Deschamps has options among his seven-man replacement list. Grenier’s club-mate Maxime Gonalons or Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin could step into midfield, with Montpellier’s Rémy Cabella or another Lyon player, Alexandre Lacazette, able to operate on the wings.
Deschamps has already been forced into one change to his original squad, with the injured Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda replaced by St-Etienne’s Stéphane Ruffier.