Raymond Domenech revealed on Tuesday that his biggest concern surrounding the France squad prior to the beginning of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ was the fitness of centre-back William Gallas.
The 32-year-old Arsenal defender has been sidelined since aggravating a left calf injury on 31 March and was the first player to arrive at France's pre-finals training camp in the Alps on Saturday. He has been training individually with Les Bleus' physical trainer Robert Duverne and Domenech said he was enthused by his progress.
"He seems to be doing well, he's eating asparagus, avocado," joked the France coach at a press conference. "He's doing well at the moment, he's happy to be here, he's training again this (Tuesday) afternoon and then again tomorrow. Each training session is a challenge and a test. Either it holds or it breaks."
Domenech jested that he would only make a decision on Gallas's inclusion in his final 23-man World Cup squad "as soon as he breaks down", but conceded: "My biggest question mark is over Gallas."
Central defence is a position that needs to be defined quickly, to be put in place, so I'm looking forward to finding out about William.
Should Gallas fail to prove his fitness in time, one option available to Domenech would be to move Jeremy Toulalan from defensive midfield into central defence, where he has played with distinction for Lyon this season. "In our discussions, it's an option. He's shown his capacity to do it," said Domenech on the subject. "Central defence is a position that needs to be defined quickly, to be put in place, so I'm looking forward to finding out about William."
Domenech would only admit that it was "possible" that Toulalan could be asked to play in central defence in one of France's pre-tournament friendlies and used the same word when asked if playmaker Yoann Gourcuff could be deployed in a deeper midfield role in front of the defence.
France's first friendly game against Costa Rica in Lens takes place on 26 May. The FIFA World Cup begins on 11 June. Domenech on Monday whittled his squad down to 24 players, having originally named a provisional squad of 30, but he will have to leave out another player before submitting his final 23-man squad to FIFA by 1 June. "When will the 24th player leave us? It depends," said Domenech. "It depends on William. Above all. And afterwards on me."
Domenech added that Gallas was France's only injury concern but conceded that captain and talisman Thierry Henry was low on confidence after an underwhelming season at Barcelona. The Catalan giants retained the Spanish title on Sunday but Henry, 32, made just 15 starts in the league and scored only four goals.
"His pride is hurt and we have to re-establish it," said the France boss, who will step down after the tournament.
Asked by a journalist if Henry - the last reminaing member of the 1998 FIFA World Cup winning squad still on the international scene - would accept not being in the starting eleven, Domenech replied: "We're 24, we will be 23. Those that remain will have to accept being among the 12 (substitutes) and not among the eleven. "Anything can happen according to the seasons that each player has had. Nothing is guaranteed."