Kylian Mbappe's ankle knock is "nothing serious", according to France head coach Didier Deschamps.

Mbappe was substituted at half-time in France's 2-0 international friendly win over Bolivia on Sunday.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar suffered a seemingly minor injury in a tangle with Bolivia's Raul Castro in Nantes.

However, Deschamps allayed fears over Mbappe ahead of Saturday's Euro 2020 showdown against Turkey.

"It's nothing serious," Deschamps told reporters post-match.

"It's just ankle foot pain after a touch. There was no risk to take. He should go [for the next match]."

Mbappe – Ligue 1 top goalscorer and Player of the Year – scored 33 league goals and 39 in all competitions for PSG in 2018-19.

The 20-year-old also hinted he could be tempted by a "new project" amid links to Real Madrid.

France have won both of their Euro 2020 qualifying fixtures and are level on points with Turkey ahead of the upcoming Group H fixture.

Kylian Mbappe's chance to impress as France's starting centre-forward came to an early end after an ankle knock curtailed his involvement at half-time of Sunday's friendly against Bolivia.

Given the chance to lead the line in Olivier Giroud's absence, the Paris Saint-Germain star saw little of the ball before sustaining a seemingly minor injury in a tangle with Raul Castro.

Mbappe, 20, made way for Wissam Ben Yedder at the interval and is now in at least some doubt for the Euro 2020 qualifying trip to Turkey on Saturday.

Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps will hope the young forward can recover in time for what is his team's toughest assignment in Group H.

France took a 2-0 lead into half-time against Bolivia in Nantes following goals from Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann.

France warmed up for a tough Euro 2020 qualifying trip to Turkey by easing to a 2-0 friendly win over Bolivia in Nantes on Sunday.

Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann scored first half-goals as the world champions made light work of a side that has won just once since September 2017.

The South Americans, who now head to Brazil to contest the Copa America, had goalkeeper Carlos Lampe to thank for keeping the margin down in a one-sided affair.

France's frustrations going forward were compounded by the loss of Kylian Mbappe to an ankle knock late in the first half, an unwanted concern ahead of Saturday's crunch Group H clash in Konya.

The gulf in class was clear from as early as the fifth minute, Lemar collecting Griezmann's pass and lifting a deft finish over the onrushing Lampe.

Samuel Umtiti and Florian Thauvin both went close before Griezmann added the second, the seemingly outgoing Atletico Madrid man producing an intelligent finish on the turn following Bolivia's failure to clear in the box.

The celebrations were tempered somewhat after a clash of ankles with Raul Castro forced Mbappe to hobble out of the match at half-time.

Lampe denied the Paris Saint-Germain star's replacement, Wissam Ben Yedder, soon after the interval and then stuck out a boot to divert a goal-bound Lemar strike.

Thauvin, substitute Kingsley Coman and Paul Pogba all tried in vain to give the scoreline a fairer reflection of France's dominance but Bolivia held out with more help from their impressive 32-year-old keeper.


What does it mean? Mbappe experiment needs more time

Afforded the chance to start centrally as Olivier Giroud watched from the bench, Mbappe will be disappointed that his opportunity to impress came to a premature conclusion.

The 20-year-old is a known quantity as a wide player at international level and it appears as though that is where he will stay for the time being.

Griezmann stands above the pack

If concerned that a planned move to Barcelona appears less likely to come to fruition, Griezmann certainly did not show it in Nantes.

He set up the opener and scored the second in the kind of classy performance that might just convince the LaLiga champions to take him to Camp Nou.

Thauvin toils without reward

Deschamps is not short on options in wide areas and the France boss will be less inclined to hand Thauvin another start in Turkey, the Marseille man having lacked polish in promising moments.

What's next?

Following their top-of-the-table clash with Turkey, France face a rather more straightforward encounter away at Andorra.

Bolivia, meanwhile, have a difficult date with hosts Brazil in their Copa America opener. Peru and Venezuela are their other Group A opponents.

Neymar resumed Brazil training on Friday, easing fears over the star forward's knee injury.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward, 27, missed training earlier in the week, but returned to action in a boost for the South American giants.

Brazil face Qatar in a friendly on Wednesday before taking on Honduras in their final game before the Copa America.

Neymar's fitness is crucial for Brazil, who are hosting the Copa America and meet Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru in Group A.

The forward is third in the nation's all-time goalscoring list with 60, behind only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62).

England-born Arsenal academy product Nico Yennaris is set to become China's first ever naturalised international after being selected in their squad for upcoming friendly matches.

The 26-year-old Beijing Guoan midfielder, who is known as Li Ke in China, has been named in coach Marcello Lippi's first squad since the Italian returned to the helm after departing in January.

He could make his debut against Philippines on June 7 or when Tajikistan visit four days later.

It has been reported that a condition of Lippi's comeback was the opportunity to start naturalising foreign players in an attempt to boost China's capabilities on the international stage.

Yennaris is the first to break that barrier after the former Brentford man is said to have renounced his UK passport and become a Chinese citizen upon signing for Beijing Guoan in January.

Media reports have suggested Yennaris could soon be joined by Brazilians Elkeson, Alex Teixeira and Ricardo Goulart, once they have all qualified for dual citizenship through living in the country for five years.

Elkeson has spent six years in China, representing Guangzhou Evergrande before joining current club Shanghai SIPG in 2016, while Teixeira famously rejected the advances of clubs such as Liverpool to sign for Jiangsu Suning the same year.

Goulart returned to Evergrande – whom he previously represented for four years – after a loan spell at Palmeiras earlier this month.

Speculation in the days since has suggested Goulart's return and potential contract extension is linked to China's apparent desire to naturalise him.

Croatia will be without stars Ivan Rakitic and Ante Rebic for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifier against Wales.

Barcelona midfielder Rakitic and Eintracht Frankfurt's Rebic were ruled out due to leg and knee injuries respectively, the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) announced.

The 2018 World Cup runners-up will host Wales on June 8 before taking on Tunisia in a friendly three days later.

"We have jointly made the decision that Rakitic will not play," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said in a statement on Wednesday.

"He has had problems with his leg, it reoccurred in the Copa del Rey final and he won't be ready for Wales and won't play against Tunisia either.

"I believe in all the players in my squad, they can replace him with quality."

The injuries are a blow to Croatia, who won one and lost one of their opening two matches in Group E.

Marcello Lippi has been named coach of China for a second stint as they prepare for 2022 World Cup qualifying.

The former Italy and Juventus boss was at the helm of China for more than two years before leaving the post in January following a quarter-final exit at the Asian Cup.

He was replaced by Fabio Cannavaro, who stepped down last month to focus on coaching Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) confirmed on Friday it had once again appointed Lippi.

"The Italian football coach Marcello Lippi became the head coach of the Chinese national men's soccer team," it said in a statement.

Lippi is set to take charge next month, when China face the Philippines and Tajikistan in friendlies.

The draw for the second round of 2022 World Cup qualifying in Asia is scheduled to be held on July 17, before the action starts in September.

Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold has included six debutants in his experimental Australia squad to face South Korea in next month's international friendly.

A-League trio Andrew Redmayne, Brandon O'Neill and Lawrence Thomas, England-based pair Harry Souttar and Ryan Williams and Freiburg forward Brandon Borrello are in line to earn their first caps in Busan on June 7.

Arnold has rested Australia's big names for the trip to South Korea, with the Socceroos set to play for the first time since their AFC Asian Cup quarter-final exit in January.

The 24-man squad includes 11 A-League-based players, including Matthew Spiranovic, Craig Goodwin and Dimitri Petratos, while former Liverpool left-back Brad Smith – on loan at Seattle Sounders from Bournemouth – returns to the national fold for the first time since October 2017.

Ryan Williams and brother Rhys are the first siblings to be named in the same Socceroos squad since Adam and Joel Griffiths in May 2008.

"Our World Cup qualification campaign preparations start now," Arnold said. "The upcoming camp and friendly international in Korea Republic provides us the opportunity to expose more players to international football, which is vital as we prepare for a long qualification campaign.

"We have seen how arduous the previous World Cup path was for our squad and it is imperative that we spend this valuable time together to have a close look and some of our next generation.

"We have eleven players in this squad who have all had excellent seasons in the domestic competition and my message to those playing in the Hyundai A-League is that if you are playing regularly and consistently for your club, you will come into consideration for the next phase of World Cup qualifiers.

"This international window also gives me the chance to spend an extended time with some of our more experienced players who have recently been missing from international football, but have been playing well for their respective clubs like Matthew Spiranovic, Rhys Williams, Adam Taggart, Bailey Wright, Josh Brillante and Brad Smith."

 

Australia: Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Lawrence Thomas (Melbourne Victory); Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Matthew Jurman (Al-Ittihad), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Matthew Spiranovic (Perth Glory), Rhys Williams (Al-Qadsiah), Bailey Wright (Bristol City); Mustafa Amini (Aarhus), Terry Antonis (Melbourne Victory), Josh Brillante (Sydney FC), James Jeggo (Austria Vienna), Brandon O'Neill (Sydney FC), Ryan Williams (Rotherham United); Brandon Borrello (Freiburg), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings).

Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka is determined to represent England at senior level despite overtures from Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 21-year-old right-back has enjoyed a fine campaign at Selhurst Park that has led to him being linked with Manchester United and Arsenal.

A potential senior England call-up has been mooted, though Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate is well stocked in that department thanks to Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.

Wan-Bissaka is of Congolese descent and has represented DR Congo at youth level, but the England Under-21 international said he still aspires to play for the country of his birth.

"The aim is England," he told Standard Sport.

"I am happy playing with England and representing England, so that is what I am going to continue doing.

"My aim is just to keep playing and improving. By improving, hopefully that does not go unnoticed and that will get me the chance, the same as it did with the [Crystal Palace] team now."

Fabio Cannavaro stepped down as China head coach to focus on his role with Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, the Italy World Cup winner announced.

Cannavaro decided to quit after just two matches in charge of the national team – both home losses to Thailand and Uzbekistan in the China Cup last month.

The 45-year-old was juggling his commitments as coach of Chinese Super League giants Evergrande after China turned to him to replace Marcello Lippi in March.

After Evergrande edged Chongqing Dangdai Lifan 1-0 on Sunday, Cannavaro confirmed his international exit.

"Out of respect for the country that has been hosting me for some years, I feel the duty to communicate that I have renounced my position as head coach of the Chinese National Football Team," Cannavaro wrote via Instagram.

"I wish to sincerely thank Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club and the Chinese Football Association for having offered me the position of the head coach of the two most important football teams in the country, however this double assignment would take me away from my family for too long.

"More than one month ago I informed my club about my intention to dedicate myself exclusively to my squad and my players. By maintaining only the position as head coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, I hope to contribute to the growth of young Chinese football players, working every day with passion and professionalism.

"I wish the Chinese National Team all the best for the qualifications to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Thanks again to everybody."

Cannavaro, who returned to Evergrande in 2017 having been sacked in 2015, has overseen six wins from seven matches as the CSL powerhouses sit second and three points adrift of leaders Beijing Guoan.

Evergrande are also on track to qualify for the AFC Champions League last 16, with Cannavaro's men second heading into the final two matchdays in Group F.

Lionel Messi says he has been carrying a pelvic injury since December after being criticised for withdrawing from international duty.

Messi had not played for Argentina since the World Cup but returned to the fold in a friendly defeat to Venezuela this month.

But he pulled out of the squad to face Morocco in another international friendly citing injury, much to the frustration of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

Messi faced criticism in his homeland as a result but he hit back in an interview with Buenos Aires-based FM Club 947.

"Somebody says whatever they want to say about me and then people believe it and I'm painted as the son of a b****," the Barcelona captain said.

“It has become the custom to say things about me. They invent things about me when I am not there. Nothing surprises me.

"The truth is I came back to the Argentina team with a pubis injury that I have been carrying since December and I have been training less and not playing all games.

"Pubis injuries are complicated; you cannot shake them off from one day to the next. I feel better but I have to take care of myself.

"I wanted to play both games with Argentina but after the first game I had some pain and I decided to rest so as not to aggravate the injury. It is improving all the time but it is not completely cleared up."

Barcelona, 10 points clear at the top of the LaLiga table, return to action on Saturday with a Catalan derby at home to Espanyol.

Lionel Messi says his six-year-old son has questioned why he receives so much criticism in Argentina.

While Messi has inspired Barcelona to domestic and European dominance during his glittering career, international success has continued to elude him.

Argentina have lost successive Copa America finals and were beaten by Germany in the final of the 2014 World Cup despite Messi's efforts.

After Argentina were knocked out by France in the last 16 at Russia 2018, Messi stepped away from international duty and only made his return from a nine-month absence in a loss to Venezuela last week.

Messi subsequently pulled out of the Argentina squad to face Morocco in another friendly on Tuesday, a decision that has re-opened the debate surrounding his commitment to his country.

The Argentina captain was quick to hit back, however, in an interview with Buenos Aires-based radio station FM Club 947.

"I dearly want to win something with the national side, I wanted to come back and want to participate in all the big games," Messi said.

"When I made the decision to return, there were many who criticised the decision. My six-year-old son asked me: 'Dad, why do they crucify you in Argentina?'.

"I tell him that it's just a handful of people. I've shown my desire to play for Argentina and don't need to prove this to anyone."

Lionel Scaloni, who replaced Jorge Sampaoli as coach after the World Cup, welcomed Messi back into the fold and the captain feels Argentina could have a bright future due to the development of young players.

"I left the World Cup squad and then didn't speak with anyone at the federation," Messi added. "Later, Scaloni called me and told me to take some time off and that he'd be keen for me to come back as he was preparing a solid project.

"A transitional phase is totally normal and it's something that should have happened years ago. The young guys have come through and need to be given time, we can't crucify these guys.

"They are a good bunch of guys and are great players. Apart from the Venezuela game they've played well and I've watched them develop with their club sides and I like the way things are going."

Everton manager Marco Silva expressed his frustration with Colombia after Yerry Mina returned with a hamstring injury that is likely to rule him out for a number of weeks.

The 24-year-old defender – who has featured just 14 times for the Toffees this season since arriving from Barcelona – was carried off on a stretcher during Colombia's international friendly with South Korea on Tuesday, four days after playing the full 90 minutes against Japan.

No timescale has been put on his return, but Silva is angered by Colombia's refusal to listen to Everton's advice that back-to-back international games would be too much for him.

"It is not good news," Silva told a media conference ahead of Everton's Premier League clash against West Ham on Saturday. "It is serious. Bad news for us as a club and for him too.

"It has not been an easy season for him since he joined the club. He's had some unlucky moments and some bad injuries. We knew before he went to the international team that it could have been a risk to play two matches.

"We communicated this to them, but we cannot control their decisions. We advised them after he played 90 minutes against Chelsea [on March 17] that it was a risk to play him in two matches in a short period.

"He is not out for the season. Let's see how many weeks it will be but I expect Mina training again with us and playing in a blue shirt again before the end of the season."

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter moved to allay injury fears over Christian Pulisic after Borussia Dortmund attacker hobbled off against Chile.

Pulisic scored before the Chelsea-bound star was forced from the field due to a muscle injury in USA's 1-1 friendly draw in Houston on Tuesday.

After breaking the deadlock inside five minutes for his 10th international goal, Pulisic received treatment and left the BBVA Compass Stadium pitch in the 35th minute – US Soccer describing the problem as a right quadricep injury.

Afterwards, Berhalter – who revealed Pulisic was in the process of undergoing an MRI – told reporters: "I'm not worried.

"You look into the why, you do an inquiry of why that's happening, and you make adjustments. He's at a top club, he's going to a top club [in Chelsea].

"We have very high-level medical personnel on our side and we'll get it right."

Pulisic has scored two goals and tallied three assists in 15 Bundesliga appearances for title hopefuls Dortmund this season.

Dortmund will be sweating over the fitness of the 20-year-old, with a top-of-the-table showdown against Bayern Munich looming on April 6.

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter moved to allay injury fears over Christian Pulisic after Borussia Dortmund attacker hobbled off against Chile.

Pulisic scored before the Chelsea-bound star was forced from the field due to a muscle injury in USA's 1-1 friendly draw in Houston on Tuesday.

After breaking the deadlock inside five minutes for his 10th international goal, Pulisic received treatment and left the BBVA Compass Stadium pitch in the 35th minute – US Soccer describing the problem as a right quadricep injury.

Afterwards, Berhalter – who revealed Pulisic was in the process of undergoing an MRI – told reporters: "I'm not worried.

"You look into the why, you do an inquiry of why that's happening, and you make adjustments. He's at a top club, he's going to a top club [in Chelsea].

"We have very high-level medical personnel on our side and we'll get it right."

Pulisic has scored two goals and tallied three assists in 15 Bundesliga appearances for title hopefuls Dortmund this season.

Dortmund will be sweating over the fitness of the 20-year-old, with a top-of-the-table showdown against Bayern Munich looming on April 6.

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