Football: Blanc looks to French pretenders to shine against Chile

MONTPELLIER, France, Aug 9, 2011 (AFP) - French coach Laurent Blanc will be looking to several fringe players to prove themselves when they take on Chile in a friendly here on Wednesday.

Blanc is without several key players - Franck Ribery, Philippe Mexes, Yoann Gourcuff and Mathieu Valbuena among them - but it gives another chance to Marvin Martin and Kevin Gameiro to shine again after impressing in France's friendlies in June and put themselves firmly in place for September's two Euro 2012 qualifiers.

AFP - French national football team players Yann M'Vila (2ndL), French midfielder Karim Benzema (2ndR) and Eric Abidal (R) run during a training session next to French national football team coach Laurent Blanc (L) on August 8, 2011 at the Roger Bambuck Stadium in Baillargues

Blanc's selection problems deepened on Monday as there were doubts over the fitness of Patrice Evra and Samir Nasri while Lille winger Dimitri Payet was ruled out.

Evra picked up a knock to his knee during Manchester United's 3-2 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield on Sunday while Nasri has undergone hospital tests for muscle problems.

However, French medical staff said that he would likely play some part in Wednesday's match. Evra was unable to train on Monday and his participation remains open to doubt.

Blanc was phlegmatic about the long injury list.

"There is no point in taking risks in a game like this on players who are not fully fit," said Blanc.

In spite of that, the French coach will be looking for more indications that this French team - humiliated at the World Cup last year - continues to improve.

Having lost their opening match in the Euro 2012 qualifiers at home to Belarus, 'Les Bleus' are now top of their group and face a key double-header against Albania and Romania next month.

"I want the players to be in peak condition for September," said Blanc.

Chile, meanwhile, arrive in Montpellier looking for a result that will help them get over their surprise defeat to Venezuela last month in the quarter-finals of the Copa America.

Palermo striker Mauricio Pinilla, who made himself unavailable for the tournament in Argentina is back in the squad while midfielder Marco Estrada should feel at home as he plays for Montpellier in France's Ligue 1.

Barcelona's new signing Alexis Sanchez - a 26 million euro acquisition from Udinese - and defender Arturo Vidal, who moved from Bayer Leverkusen to Juventus, are both expected to play.

Chile have no competitive fixtures until the start of qualifying for the 2016 World Cup begins next year.

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