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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Didier Deschamps plays down Paul Pogba's claims 2018 World Cup may be his last

France need just a point from final game with Denmark to clinch top spot in Group C on Tuesday

France's midfielder Paul Pogba trains ahead of France's final Group C game with Denmark on Tuesday. Franck Fife / AFP
France's midfielder Paul Pogba trains ahead of France's final Group C game with Denmark on Tuesday. Franck Fife / AFP

France coach Didier Deschamps on Monday played down a suggestion from Paul Pogba that the tournament in Russia could be the Manchester United midfielder's last World Cup.

Pogba, 25, caused a stir on Sunday when he told reporters this summer's World Cup could be his final one "because you don't know what can happen tomorrow".

"I don't think it will be his last World Cup, given he's only 25. In four years he will be 29 years old. It's likely he'll play in others," Deschamps said ahead of France's final group game with Denmark.

"He's had to go through some more difficult periods," Deschamps, who took over the France job in 2012, said of Pogba.

"In my own relation with him, I still see the same player. He has gained a lot of experience even if he is only 25 years old. He's good in his head, he's happy and he's very motivated."

France top Group C with six points after wins over Australia and Peru, and will clinch first place if they avoid defeat to Denmark in Moscow.

The Denmark coach Age Hareide may regret making dismissive remarks about France before the World Cup, Deschamps added.

Last month, Hareide told a Danish newspaper that France are "nothing special" and lack leaders, and Paul Pogba cares more about his hair than his football.

France are expected to make several changes for the game but Deschamps told the pre-match press conference that Denmark would be given no "helping hand" and his objective was clear: win the game and top the group.

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Asked if Hareide's comments would "add salt to the contest", Deschamps said: "Salt, pepper, vinegar, whatever you wish - anybody can say what they want but they have to take responsibility for their words.

"It wasn't very nice, but my players know very well what the coach said: they can read, they can listen."

On the France line-up for the Group C decider at the Luzhniki Stadium, Deschamps admitted this game was his last chance to rest and rotate players but denied it would be a "risk", as every player in his squad is good enough to step in and contribute.

"Of course it's different when you arrive with six points. I have options, so I will look at the individual situation of each player, the yellow cards and how I can manage their play time," he said.

Also speaking to reporters on Monday was Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, who looks set to captain France against Denmark.

Asked if there was any possibility the team would try to engineer an easier last-16 game by not winning the group, Varane said: "No, we don't want to start doing calculations and tie knots in our heads."