CLAIREFONTAINE France (Reuters) - France captain Hugo Lloris on Monday urged his team mates to maintain their form and unity as they began preparations for the World Cup finals. Les Bleus, whose 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 campaigns were marred by off-field trouble, have been erasing memories of their sometimes farcical disharmony in South Africa and Ukraine with an improved sense of purpose under the guidance of new coach Didier Deschamps, captain of the 1998 World Cup-winning French team.
After losing 2-0 away to Ukraine in the first leg of their playoff last November, France recovered to win the return game 3-0 and qualify for Brazil. They followed that triumph with an uplifting and convincing 2-0 win against the Netherlands two months ago.
“I think we have to continue with our dynamic,” Lloris told a news conference at Clairefontaine where they have gathered ahead of three warm-up games. “Let’s stay on this track. We showed a good image against the Netherlands...”
Lloris added a touch of compassion when he was asked about absent fellow-goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, the squad’s long-established second-choice, who on Sunday was ruled out of the finals with a neck injury.
”It is unfortunate,“ said Lloris. ”It always hurts to lose a team mate because of an injury. We will think of him during the competition.
”He has been here, for two years, at every gathering even if he had not played a lot. He is someone important in the squad.
“I am, and his team mates are, sad for him. It was not possible for him to be ready on time.”
Deschamps, who controversially left out midfielder Samir Nasri of English champions Manchester City and his team mate Gael Clichy, said he was monitoring the progress of injured players in his 29-man squad.
Centre back Eliaquim Mangala, one of the 23 selected for Brazil, has an ankle injury, while striker Karim Benzema of Real Madrid has a groin problem.
”The Real Madrid medical staff are doing what they can to have him ready for (Saturday’s) Champions League final,“ said Deschamps. ”We will be monitoring the situation.
“Mangala will do some specific training. There is no emergency.”
Due to club commitments, only nine players have arrived at the training camp where they will train with the under-21’s until Wednesday.
France face Norway on May 27 before playing Paraguay and Jamaica on June 1 and 8 respectively.
The World Cup finals begin on June 12.
France are in Group E with Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras, who they face in their opening game in Porto Alegre on June 15.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Timothy Collings