Giroud back in France squad after Benzema withdraws

PARIS (AP) — AC Milan forward Olivier Giroud has been called up to France’s national squad for upcoming friendly matches as a replacement for the injured Karim Benzema.

The French football federation said Saturday that Benzema has been ruled out because of a left calf injury.

As part of their preparations for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, the defending champions will take on Ivory Coast in Marseille on March 25. They will then play South Africa in Lille four days later.

Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid, was hurt Monday in a Spanish league match against Mallorca. He scored two goals and an assist in the 3-0 win.

This is the first time that France coach Didier Deschamps has selected Giroud since the European Championship last year. He has scored 46 goals in 110 appearances for France.

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