PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps recalled midfielder Yohan Cabaye and striker Loic Remy to his squad Thursday for an upcoming World Cup qualifier against Finland.
Cabaye, who has 23 international caps, missed last month's qualifiers against Georgia and Belarus because he lacked match fitness. At the time, he was refusing to train for his club Newcastle as he tried to push through a move to join Arsenal.
Cabaye has since returned to the Newcastle team and scored with a brilliant first-time strike in Monday night's 3-2 loss at Everton. France plays Australia in a friendly match next Friday and then hosts Finland at Stade de France four days later.
Remy has scored three goals in four games for Newcastle. His last France appearance was in March against Georgia. "Remy is effective, and he has the advantage of being able to play in several positions," Deschamps said. "He is quick and make runs from deep. He's very versatile."
Deschamps' team looks certain to finish second in Group I behind Spain and having to qualify through the playoffs next month. They are level on points with Spain, but the World Cup winners have played a game less and have home games against Belarus and Georgia.
"I don't know what the odds are (of finishing top)," Deschamps said. "But they must be very slim." Real Madrid center half Raphael Varane and Liverpool center back Mamadou Sakho are also back in the squad. Varane only returned from injury on Wednesday night and played the full 90 minutes in the 4-0 win against FC Copenhagen in the Champions League.
"Raphael was with us for the games in March. He's been training regularly for the last three weeks and played yesterday," Deschamps said. "It seemed logical to recall him. Above all, it's what he's capable of doing. I consider him to be an important player for us."
Deschamps still has to figure out who to play in attack, with Karim Benzema failing to score in his past 15 international appearances and Olivier Giroud in fine form for Arsenal this season. Deschamps normally prefers one center forward and attempts to get them to play together have proved fruitless so far.
Benzema was taken off in the second half after a disappointing performance in the 0-0 draw at Georgia and Giroud replaced him in attack for the 4-2 away win against Belarus. Benzema did not play a part in that game.
"Karim has scored goals for Real," Benzema said. "I want my players to be as competitive as possible for their clubs, because that benefits us." Deschamps is unsure whether to experiment with his team against the Australians.
"I'm not saying that those will start against Australia will start against Finland," Deschamps said. "We have to prepare as well as possible for the matches in November."
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia).
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Monaco), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle); Clement Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).