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Benzema misses Real Madrid training hours before France World Cup squad announcement

France forward Karim Benzema was absent from Real Madrid’s training session on Wednesday, hours before Didier Deschamps announces his World Cup squad, an AFP journalist witnessed.

Ballon d’Or winner Benzema has missed four games due to a thigh problem with Les Bleus coach Deschamps naming his 26-man list at 1900GMT later on Wednesday.

“He has not been able to come back from this little irritation, it is nothing major,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.

“He has tried, but it has not been possible,” he added.

Benzema has only featured in three of Madrid’s last nine league games, because of a thigh injury and then muscle fatigue.

The forward’s only appearance since September 19 has been a cameo off the bench against Celtic in the Champions League.

Ancelotti defended Benzema against accusations that the former is putting France’s World Cup bid ahead of his club, who have fallen behind in the title race.

They are in second spot, five points behind rivals Barcelona, although they have a game in hand to play against Cadiz on Thursday.

“(The criticism) is nonsense, he had a problem, which wasn’t serious, because he didn’t stop, he’s carried on training individually,” said Ancelotti.

“Karim is the one who’s most disappointed with the situation, because he arrives at the World Cup with the Ballon d’Or, but without the minutes in his legs needed to be up to speed.

“He has never thought his World Cup has been in danger. Really, they are very small issues.”

Deschamps, who guided France to the 2018 title, is already without injured midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

Experienced centre-back Raphael Varane will not feature before the World Cup for his club Manchester United due to a thigh problem but has not been ruled out of the competition.

Deschamps’ side start the defence of their title on November 22 against Australia, before also playing Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.

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