PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps recalled Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna on Thursday and handed a first call up to winger Romain Alessandrini for next Wednesday's friendly match against Germany.
Sagna missed out on last year's European Championship while recovering from a broken leg and is set to make his first international appearance since September 2011. Alessandrini has been in outstanding form this season for Rennes.
"Bacary had a big injury, but since he came back he's been playing regularly. There's a lot of competition for places on that right side, but he's used to the highest level," Deschamps said. "I wanted to see him playing again for France and I wanted him to feel the faith I have in him with regards to the French team."
France has played well since Deschamps took charge after Euro 2012, securing a 1-1 draw at European champion Spain in World Cup qualifying and winning 2-1 at Italy in a friendly match. Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, who scored in Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinals, could make his first international appearance at Stade de France.
"I didn't wait for yesterday's game, to be honest, I had already drawn up my list," Deschamps said. "He's been playing a lot more since the start of the year. He's a young player with a great future."
The skillful Alessandrini has scored nine league goals for Rennes in his first season in France's top league — many of them spectacular goals from long range. "I've been watching him for quite a while now and his performances for Rennes have been of the highest quality," Deschamps said. "He scores goals and he sets them up, he has very good technique. It's a chance for him. He's going to discover a new level. The expectation level will be higher, so he will have to be ready for that."
Although Deschamps called up Varane, he overlooked 19-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba — for now — despite his fine recent form for Italian champion Juventus. "Pogba has a lot of potential. He's playing in his first full season at the highest level and he's still young," Deschamps said. "But he's a player that I will continue to follow."
Deschamps expects a stern test against Euro 2012 semifinalist Germany. "I haven't had the players available for the last three months, it will be a good test for us," Deschamps said. "There's a lot of expectation from the fans after the way we played in Spain and Italy. It's important that the players show the desire on the pitch."
Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Lille), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Romain Alessandrini (Rennes)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)