French douse fitness fears over star striker Kylian Mbappe
8 December, 2022, 2:29 pm
Yes, Kylian Mbappe will be ready to face England at the World Cup on Sunday. No, the France forward was not injured when he missed training.
France teammate Ibrahima Konate delivered a reassuring message about Mbappe on Thursday, news that perhaps England fans did not want to hear three days before the teams meet in the quarterfinals.
“There’s nothing worrying. Nothing to make a controversy about,” Konate said, explaining Mbappe had a recovery session away from the training field on Wednesday – normal routine two days after a game in the round of 16.
Walker is up for the challenge. He was in a defiant mood at the England media session, declaring: “The game isn’t England v Mbappe, it’s England versus France. We will give respect but I’m not going to roll out a red carpet for him to score. It’s do or die as if we lose we go home.
“I do understand what I need to do and that’s to stop him. It’s probably easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself. I’ve come across great players before, so I just treat it like another game.
“I’ll give him the respect he deserves but not too much because this is England. No one player makes a team. This isn’t tennis, it isn’t a solo sport.”
Konate, now in his second season in the Premier League, was asked what he had learned from the style of game France will face at Al Bayt Stadium.
Konate singled out the need to keep high levels of concentration at all times or “pay in cash” for any mistakes.
The Premier League was also on the mind of France midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who has impressed at the World Cup in Qatar four years after he was not selected in the country’s title-winning squad.
“I always said that I would like to play in England in my career,” said the Juventus midfielder, who will be 28 when his contract with the Italian club expires at the end of the season.
Rabiot added he had no particular English club in mind, or if he would go next year, just that he was attracted by the league’s level of play.
At the age of 13, he spent six months in England with Manchester City. He described that as a “very good experience.”
Rabiot has returned to the national team after provoking a dispute in 2018 with France coach Didier Deschamps. That spat took two years to resolve, but Rabiot is now back in favour and anchoring the French midfield in Qatar.