France have confirmed Karim Benzema is ruled out of the World Cup in a huge blow for the defending champions.
On Saturday, the 34-year-old joined his teammates for the first time in training since the squad linked up at their base in Doha having struggled with injury this season.
Benzema was forced to withdraw from the session after feeling pain in his thigh during a sprint, however, quickly undergoing scans to determine the extent of the problem.
‘I am extremely sad for Karim who made this World Cup a major goal,’ Les Blues boss Didier Deschamps said. ‘Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group.
‘We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us.’
A France FA spokesperson added: ‘He had an MRI scan which unfortunately confirmed a lesion of the thigh muscle, which needs a recovery time of three weeks.’
In a post shared on Instagram, Benzema passed on a message of good luck to his France teammates – and to whoever is selected to come in and replace him.
‘In my life I have never given up but tonight I have to think about the team as I have always done so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group have a good World Cup,’ Benzema wrote. ‘Thank you for all your messages of support.’
Deschamps will have the chance to bring in a replacement for Benzema before Monday.
The defending champions have already suffered a number of injury blows heading into the competition with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante – key figures in their 2018 success in Russia – both ruled out.
In a further blow, Didier Deschamps is also without RB Leipzig star Christophe Nkunku, who suffered an injury during a training session this week following a challenge from Eduardo Camavinga.
France begin their campaign against Australia on Tuesday evening before taking on Denmark on Saturday. They conclude their group campaign against Tunisia on 30 November.
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane is pushing for a start having recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in a Premier League clash against Chelsea in October.
Like Benzema, Varane joined in with the rest of the team in training on Saturday, coming through unscathed in his bid to start against Australia next week.
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