France came into the World Cup without the likes of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, and their rotten luck continued on Tuesday.
France saw their injury crisis deepen as Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez was forced off early on in Tuesday’s World Cup meeting with Australia.
Didier Deschamps’ side arrived in Qatar looking to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but their preparations for the tournament were hampered by fitness issues.
Having already lost 2018’s World Cup-winning midfield duo Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante before naming their 26-man squad for the competition, France have seen their rotten luck continue.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe was forced to withdraw from their squad after failing to recover from a hamstring injury, while RB Leipzig’s in-form attacker Christopher Nkunku was ruled out of the tournament after he tore the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.
The biggest blow was still to come for Les Bleus, as Ballon d’Or winning striker Karim Benzema – who was also absent from their triumphant 2018 campaign – was forced to leave their camp after sustaining a thigh injury in training.
Hernandez became the latest France international to be stricken nine minutes into their Group D clash with Australia, going down clutching his knee after being turned by Matthew Leckie in the build-up to Craig Goodwin’s opening goal.
Having limped off the pitch to be replaced by his brother Theo Hernandez, the Bayern defender may now face a battle to be fit for France’s fixtures against Tunisia and Denmark.