N'Golo Kante and Dimitri Payet named in latest France squad

France call up Kante and Payet
Both Kante and Payet have impressed in their debut Premier League campaigns

Leicester City midfielder N'Golo Kante has received his first France call-up for this month's friendlies against Netherlands and Russia.

West Ham forward Dimitri Payet has also been recalled and could make his first international appearance since June.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, currently involved in a court case, is left out.

"Kante is a complete midfielder," said Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps. "He's been stringing together top-level performances with Leicester."

Kante, 24, joined the Foxes from French side Caen in August, becoming one of the key figures in their surprise Premier League title challenge.

Former Juventus and Chelsea midfielder Deschamps, who captained France to the 1998 World Cup, said he had picked Kante ahead of Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin.

"It's not that I don't trust Morgan, but I wanted to give N'Golo a run out before making a final decision on the Euro 2016 squad," he added.

"He is a great ball winner and passer with a great sense of positioning."

Benzema's absence 'a football decision'

Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema have not played for Les Bleus since October

Payet, 28, has been instrumental in West Ham's bid for Champions League qualification, scoring eight goals and providing seven assists in the Premier League.

The former Marseille player, who has won 15 caps, is one of the men called up in the continued absence of Benzema.

Benzema, 28, was suspended by the French Football Federation in December until an investigation into an alleged bid to blackmail France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex video was resolved.

He was told last week that he was eligible to play at Euro 2016 after some legal restrictions were lifted, but has still been left out of Deschamps' latest squad.

"It's a logical sporting decision, a decision based on his performances with his club side," said Deschamps.

"Payet will get a run out and it's good he's with us for the two matches."

Euro 2016 hosts France play Netherlands in Amsterdam on 25 March, then host Russia at the Stade de France four days later.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC