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France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the World Cup because of a thigh injury suffered in training.
Benzema, 34, won the 2022 Ballon d’Or – awarded to the world’s best player – after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga.
“I am extremely sad for Karim, who made this World Cup a major goal,” said head coach Didier Deschamps.
“In my life I never give up but tonight I have to think about the team like I always do,” Benzema said.
“So the reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our team to make a great World Cup.”
The French Football Federation said: “The whole team shares Karim’s sadness and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
It said an MRI scan confirmed the injury, which requires “a three-week recovery period”.
France play Australia on 22 November, Denmark on 26 November and Tunisia on 30 November in Group D.
Deschamps, who must name a replacement for Benzema by Monday, has lost several key players through injury.
Midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were not included in the original 26-man squad.
Defender Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to recover from a hamstring problem – he was replaced by Axel Disasi – and on Wednesday forward Christopher Nkunku was ruled out after limping out of training. Randal Kolo Muani was called up as a replacement.
Defender Raphael Varane is aiming to be fit after missing Manchester United’s past five matches.
United forward Anthony Martial is an option to replace Benzema, who had been struggling with a thigh problem since October and has played less than half an hour in Real’s past six games.
Saturday’s was his first full training session since the World Cup squad came together last week.
Deschamps said: “Despite this new setback, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the immense challenge that awaits us.”
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