William Saliba is now unlikely to start France’s opening World Cup fixture against Australia on Tuesday, with the return of Raphael Varane to fitness.

PARIS, FRANCE: William Saliba of France runs with the ball during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between France and Austria on September 22, 2022. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE: William Saliba of France runs with the ball during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between France and Austria on September 22, 2022. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Speaking in a press conference ahead of France’s opening World Cup game against Australia, Didier Deschamps confirmed that Raphael Varane would be available for the game following his comeback from injury.

Varane had been training separately from the rest of the France squad, but it seems he’s returned to fitness just in time for the tournament.

The presence of the 29-year-old Manchester United defender in Deschamps’ plans for the game is obviously a blow to any other French defender hoping to break in – William Saliba included.

Varane has 87 caps and two World Cups to his name, so he’ll surely be a strong favourite to start if he’s able to.

Having said that, reports from RMC earlier in the tweet had suggested that Saliba might struggle to earn a starting spot anyway.

The French outlet report (via Robin Bairner) that Deschamps had been testing out a back four of Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, and Lucas Hernandez in training this week.

LONDON, ENGLAND: William Saliba of Arsenal runs breaks away from Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on October 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: William Saliba of Arsenal runs breaks away from Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on October 01, 2022. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Arsenal fans will probably be wondering what more Saliba could do to get a place ahead of the likes of Upamecano and Konate, neither of whom have any more experience in international football than Saliba does – with seven and two caps respectively.

But if it means he stays fit and raring to go when club football returns, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

As the World Cup takes place in a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal, please also remember that “Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers over the past decade, despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe working conditions," according to Amnesty International.

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