Anelka: I don't miss Les Bleus
Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka does not miss international football and insists he has no plans to come out of retirement for UEFA EURO 2012 once he completes his 18-match ban.
Anelka was given the hefty sentence last August for his role in the controversial mutiny against France head coach Raymond Domenech at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery have both served bans for their part in the protest against Domenech's reign and are now playing for Les Bleus again.
Former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Anelka admitted last summer that he wanted to quit international football despite the departure of Domenech, who has been replaced by Laurent Blanc. Anelka's ban is due to come to an end just before EURO 2012 and France are on course to qualify for the tournament in Poland and the Ukraine after picking up 12 points to top Group D after five games.
Should Les Bleus qualify, Anelka would not be willing to add to the 69 caps he already holds as he thinks he is better off outside the international arena. "I don't miss it, I am glad to be out of it (international football)," Anelka told Chelsea's website.
"Of course it can help to not play, you play less games so it is perfect to be off and to think about something else for one or two weeks then come back fresh to the club. You get some family life, go to Paris, wherever you want with your family, it is perfect, but I used to be like this when I played for City and in the beginning at Bolton, so I know this situation and I like it. I really don't think about the national team or playing games."
Chelsea travel to Stoke on Saturday looking to keep up their title challenge in the first match after the international break. The Blues then host Manchester United in the first leg of the club's UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash on Wednesday. Anelka admits the draw could not have been much harder for Chelsea, but concedes that they will have to overcome the best sides on the continent to become European champions for the first time in their history.
"We know them (United) but I don't think it's a good draw because they are a good team and difficult to beat with a lot of quality players," Anelka said. "But, if you want to win the Champions League you have to beat good teams. These two games with Manchester United will feel like Premier League games, we have already played them in so many games so these will be the same, and we will just have to see what happens."
Chelsea were given a big lift ahead of their end of season run-in when Yossi Benayoun came through 20 minutes of Israel's 1-0 win over Georgia on Tuesday. It was the midfielder's first appearance since suffering an Achilles injury in September and he has now targeted a place in Carlo Ancelotti's starting XI.
"I was just so happy when the coach told me I could get back on the pitch again after so long out," Benayoun told reporters after the Israel match. "I knew I couldn't have played for 90 minutes but felt I could play for 20 or 30 at a high level. I can't wait to start a game again."