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France recalls for Le Sommer and Renard as new coach calls up old guard
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John Skilbeck
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New France head coach Herve Renard
New France head coach Herve Renard

Wendie Renard and Eugenie Le Sommer were recalled to the France squad on Friday as new coach Herve Renard began his Women's World Cup planning.

Long-serving captain and centre-back Renard indicated in February she would not play on for France under the Corinne Diacre regime, and forwards Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto followed suit.

That public boycott by the trio triggered the end of Diacre's five-and-a-half-year spell in charge.

Diani and Katoto are unavailable for selection due to injury at present, but the change of leadership has led to an immediate recall for Wendie Renard, although it has yet to be decided whether the 32-year-old will skipper the team.

Coach Renard – not related to defender Renard – said the pair would talk about that issue, and he would also consider the squad's feelings when they meet for friendlies against Colombia on April 7 and against Canada on April 11.

Talks have taken place with Katoto already, with boss Renard assuring the striker she is a big part of his future plans, while he has also delivered a positive message to Amandine Henry, the experienced Lyon midfielder who dropped off the international group during Diacre's reign.

Forward Le Sommer, who has won 175 caps but last featured in April 2021, had also been cut out of Diacre's plans.

She missed the Euro 2022 finals, but ahead of her 34th birthday in May the Lyon forward finds herself back in favour with Les Bleues and has a chance to majorly revive her international career.

"She has incomparable experience," said coach Renard. "We really need her experience and her intelligence in the game. It was a pleasure to chat with her and I can't wait to meet her and see her at work."

Looking at the wider picture, Renard indicated he had been given carte blanche regarding squad selection.

The French Football Federation previously criticised the manner of the players' boycott, affirming that acting in such a way "to express their criticisms was no longer acceptable in future".

For the greater good, however, misgivings have been set aside, with coach Renard saying: "It was very clear to me. The FFF gave me a very extensive list of pre-selected players with all the players.

"I felt the FFF gave me the green light to select all the players from this list. For me, what happened [in the past], it does not concern me," the coach said. "We can pay tribute to Corinne Diacre who obtained good results. But now the page turns."

The appointment of Renard as Diacre's successor came on Thursday, after he resigned as coach of the Saudi Arabia men's team.

He oversaw the team's stunning 2-1 victory over eventual winners Argentina at last year's World Cup in Qatar, and now another World Cup awaits, with Australia and New Zealand co-hosting the women's tournament in July and August.

His contract with Les Bleues will run until August 2024, meaning he is also set to be in charge of France at next year's home Olympic Games in Paris.

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