PARIS: France coach Laurent Blanc named Yoann Gourcuff in his preliminary 26-man squad for Euro 2012 on Tuesday, while there was a surprise first call-up for Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Gourcuff, 25, had been in danger of missing out, having made only 13 league appearances for Lyon this season due to injury, and received the last of his 28 caps in March 2011. “On club form, his record is indefensible, as he’s hardly played and when he has played, he’s not performed well, but for France, his record is not that bad,” explained Blanc, who won the Ligue 1 title with Gourcuff at Bordeaux in 2009.
“He’s definitely benefited from the circumstances: during his long absence, no-one has imposed themselves in his area of the pitch.”
Yanga-Mbiwa, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, took the place of Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Younes Kaboul, who was forced to drop out of the squad due to a patellar tendon injury. “Younes is out of the Euro,” Blanc announced on Eurosport.
“He has a fairly significant injury to his knee, the patellar tendon, that’s been troubling him for quite a while.”
Blanc had previously unveiled a 12-man list of players playing overseas on May 9.
Yanga-Mbiwa’s inclusion came at the expense of Mamadou Sakho, who lost his place in the Paris Saint-Germain starting line-up following the arrival of Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti in December.