France boss Didier Deschamps believes Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud still has a valuable role to play with the national team.
Giroud has served as France’s main striker since Karim Benzema’s exile began in late 2015 and he led the line as the hosts finished as runners-up at Euro 2016, scoring three times.
Nevertheless, the 30-year-old continues to divide opinion in his homeland and has been restricted to seven Premier League starts with Arsenal this season.
He has managed eight goals in England’s top flight and, with Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe in Deschamps’ squad for the first time, Giroud offered a timely reminder of his talents with a brace in Saturday’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Luxembourg.
“He can play tomorrow, like the other ones,” Deschamps said at a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with Spain at the Stade de France.
“Olivier has not had a lot of minutes on the pitch, also because he had an injury. Even if he was in the side [at Arsenal], then the people were thinking that he was able to play, to begin the match.
“If you’re on the bench and you don’t come in because you’re not 100 per cent, then only few people can be aware of it.
“But before the international break he played three games in a row. He knows that he’s had a more difficult season.
“But he proved on Saturday that he’s still an efficient striker. He scores goals with us, but he also gives to the players around him to change the attacking dynamic.”
Another of the young stars putting pressure on the likes of Giroud is Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele.
The 19-year-old was substituted at half-time on his maiden international start against Ivory Coast last November, but he completed 90 minutes on the right flank at the weekend.
“Yes, it did not go well the first time,” Deschamps said of Dembele. “He was perhaps a little inhibited.
“He has reacted well with his club, where he gives good performances. He has a running speed, he likes to dribble.
“He has to make the right choices but he is able to unbalance defences. This game against Luxembourg will give him confidence.”