France coach Raymond Domenech has awarded a first call-up to Ligue 1 top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac for the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying double-header against Lithuania.
But there was no place for captain Patrick Vieira, who only recently returned to action for his Italian club Inter Milan after a spell on the sidelines with an Achilles tendon problem. Les Bleus travel to Kaunas on 28 March before welcoming their opponents to the French capital on 1 April.
Gignac has been rewarded for his goal-scoring exploits at Toulouse with the fifth spot in Domenech's pool of strikers. The 23-year-old leads the French division scoring charts with 17 goals and he has been selected ahead of Paris St-Germain's in-form hitman Guillaume Hoarau, who has netted 15 times this term.
Vieira was forced out of last summer's UEFA EURO 2008 tournament through injury and has not represented his country since a goalless friendly with Uruguay on 19 November. Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and Lille's Adil Rami both return to the squad, with fellow defenders Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Jean-Alain Boumsong (Lyon) and Julien Escude (Sevilla) all ruled out by injury.
France currently lie third in European qualifying group seven and Domenech is under pressure to secure their qualification after overseeing a meek group-stage exit at EURO 2008. The 1998 FIFA World Cup winners have just one win to show from their first three qualifying matches - a 2-1 victory at home to Serbia - having suffered a shock 3-1 defeat in Austria and fought back to draw 2-2 in Romania. They trail Serbia and Lithuania by four points but have a game in hand on both.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Toulouse)
Defenders: Gael Clichy (Arsenal/ENG), Rod Fanni (Rennes), William Gallas (Arsenal/ENG), Philippe Mexes (Roma/ITA), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla/ESP), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Adil Rami (Lille)
Midfielders: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ENG), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon), Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ENG), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER)
Forwards: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea/ENG), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Thierry Henry (Barcelona/ESP), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse)