Football

Hugo Lloris: Paul Pogba will be at his best for France in World Cup

The France national team are rallying around Paul Pogba before the international friendly against Colombia on Friday evening in Paris, with captain Hugo Lloris describing the Manchester United midfielder as “a leader in our team.”

ESPN reports Paul Pogba is revitalised being with his France teammates and smiling again after the tension of the last few weeks.

Before joining up with the France squad, Pogba was left on the bench for the FA Cup quarterfinal against Brighton on Saturday. He only came on as a substitute for the final 30 minutes against Sevilla in the Champions League three days earlier and missed the Premier League victory against Liverpool before that. His last start was in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace on March 5.

Sources said Pogba is enjoying being in France, focusing on the national team and wants the two matches against Colombia on Friday and Russia on Tuesday to help him get his season back on track. His chat with Didier Deschamps, where he told the head coach that all was not well at Manchester United and with Jose Mourinho, has helped him deal with the situation.

Pogba has had a tough few weeks with United but Deschamps and national team captain, Hugo Lloris have shown their support towards the 25-year-old on Thursday in their prematch news conferences.

“Paul is a leader in our team. He has had injuries which explain why he has been inconsistent at times. But when he is 100 percent, he is one of the best players in the world,” Lloris said.

The goalkeeper, who played against him when Tottenham beat Manchester United on Jan. 31 at Wembley in the Premier League, when Pogba clashed with Jose Mourinho on the touchline, is confident his teammate will deliver for France come the World Cup.

“He knows his place, his responsibilities and I have no doubt that he will be at his best at the World Cup” Lloris added.

Earlier in the week, Deschamps said that Pogba could not be happy with his current situation in England and that he would talk to him, something he has subsequently done.

“His situation in Manchester is complicated,” Deschamps said. “It is good for him to be here with us. I had a long discussion with him. I know how to deal with him.

“I am here to encourage my players, show them my confidence but also be truthful with them. I am here to put them in the best condition for the national team.”

Deschamps gave Pogba his France debut in March 2013 and the midfielder has been a key player under him, taking part in 49 of the 64 matches with Deschamps at the helm.

His last 16 appearances with Les Bleus have have seen him in the starting XI. Even if his performances have been inconsistent, Deschamps has always protected him.

Pogba has been very good at training this week at Clairefontaine. However, he is not expected to start on Friday against Colombia. Indeed, in the last training behind closed doors on Thursday evening at the Stade de France, he was not part of the team that should play on Friday, sources told ESPN FC. Instead, N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi will start in midfield.

France will line up in a 4-4-2 formation with Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud up front. Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe will be the two attacking wide players. At the back, Samuel Umtiti will be preferred to Laurent Koscielny to play alongside Raphael Varane at centre-back. Dibrell Sidibe and Lucas Digne will be the two full-backs.

Pogba will come on during the game, though, and should start on Tuesday against Russia.

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