PARIS (AP) — Defender Eric Abidal has been recalled to the France squad for the first time since recovering from a liver transplant.
Abidal, who has made 61 appearances for France, is among the 23-man squad named by coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday for the friendly match against Belgium on Aug. 14.
The 33-year-old Abidal, who hasn’t played for France since February 2012, had a liver transplant in April last year. He left Barcelona to join Monaco in the offseason.
“After talking for a very long time with him, I decided to recall him,” Deschamps said. “You all know his international experience, his history, his transfer to Monaco, his progression during preseason matches. Plus there are several injuries in that area.
“Abidal, above all, is competitive and has a deep and strong desire to represent his country.”
Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia could make his debut after being name in the squad for the first time. He was part of the France squad which won the Under-20 World Cup last month.
“He had a very good season with Sevilla and he was good with the Under-20 team at the World Cup,” Deschamps said. “He has the potential of a future international. It’s an opportunity for him to discover the senior France team. He is a very specific kind of player who is capable of bringing a lot to the midfield.”
Samir Nasri could play for France for the first time since the 2012 European Championship. He was banned for three games for insulting a journalist in an expletive-laced tirade following the 2-0 loss to Spain.
The midfielder was recalled for friendlies in June against Uruguay and Brazil but missed out through injury.
France has a poor record in friendlies under Deschamps, having won only one out of six — including four defeats.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia).
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Eric Abidal (Monaco), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Adil Rami (Valencia), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).
Midfielders : Josuha Guilavogui (Saint Etienne), Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla), Rio Mavuba (Lille), E. Capoue (Toulouse), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Clement Grenier (Lyon).
Forwards : Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).