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France snubs Anelka for Belgium friendly

PARIS, Feb 12 (AFP) France coach Jacques Santini on Thursday snubbed Nicolas Anelka for the upcoming friendly on February 18 against Belgium by leaving him out of the squad.

Santini named a 20-man squad for the Euro 2004 warm-up match, including Manchester United forward Louis Saha alongside Arsenal’s Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet of Juventus and Lyon pair Sidney Govou and Peguy Luyindula.

Santini’s decision to leave out Anelka – a member of the Euro 2000 winning squad – makes it unlikely the 24-year-old will make it into the Euro 2004 squad.

The Manchester City star, who last played for the national side in April 2002 and has scored six goals in 28 appearances, had recently made a plea in the French press to return to the squad after some troubled times with Santini.

Anelka was left out by Santini for a friendly against Yugoslavia in November 2002, and days later, when Santini selected him as cover for the injured Sidney Govou, Anelka petulantly declined, saying that Santini would have to get down on his knees and apologize.

The former Paris St Germain, Arsenal and Real Madrid forward, who has shone at City this season, has not played for France since.

French football federation president Claude Simonet had hinted on French television last week at a possible return by Anelka.

“If the time comes and France need him why not?” Simonet had said, adding: “Perhaps youth has led Nicolas to do and say certain things that with time he will learn from.”


                                                              Subject: France news