France dealt huge injury blow ahead of World Cup

Karim Benzema has been struggling for fitness all season
Karim Benzema has been struggling for fitness all season / Christopher Lee/GettyImages

France striker Karim Benzema returned to training on Saturday but had to leave the session injured and is now expected to miss the World Cup altogether.

Benzema has been struggling for fitness all season and was forced to miss all of Real Madrid’s last five games in all competitions prior to the World Cup break.

The 34-year-old returned to training on Saturday alongside former clubmate Raphael Varane, who hadn’t played since October because of an injury suffered while playing for Manchester United.

RMC initially reported that Benzema wasn’t able to finish the session - his first since arriving in Qatar. He was due for tests later in the evening to assess the damage, with the same publication later revealing that the Ballon d'Or winner's World Cup dream is over.

Le Parisien described it as a muscle tear in his left thigh.

France can still call up a replacement to join the squad by Monday, which is the day before they play Australia. Didier Deschamps only named 25 players in his original squad for the tournament, opting not to fill the maximum quota of 26 players permitted by FIFA until later adding Marcus Thuram.

The holders were already missing Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante from the group due to injury, while Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku have had to pull out since the squad was announced.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Brian Goldfarb, Sean Walsh & Ali Rampling from the 90min editorial team to look back on Brazil ’14 as part of the 'Our World Cups' series. We take a trip down memory lane - join us!