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Domenech to spring another surprise

Anyone who watched the sickening slow-motion replays would have been left in little doubt, but the grim reality of Djibril Cisse's leg break was confirmed last night by France coach Raymond Domenech. “Everyone is devastated," he said of the mood following the injury to the French team's top scorer in qualifying. "There’s a profound feeling of loss.” Willy Sagnol also spoke to underline Cisse's importance to squad, on and off the pitch. “Within this group of players, there’s a togetherness I’ve never experienced before with France. This is a friend who’s been taken away from us.”
Now, as is the nature of football, talk has turned to Cisse's likely replacement, with FIFA World Cup™ rules entitling France to call on someone to take the unfortunate Liverpool striker's place. Typically, however, the enigmatic Domenech was giving little away following last night's match, saying only: “All the options are possible."
Time is of the essence
With France’s FIFA World Cup opener just days away, the issue of Cisse’s replacement must be dealt with swiftly and, fortunately for Domenech there is no shortage of options. Ludovic Giuly, a UEFA Champions League-winner with Barcelona, would appear to fit the bill perfectly given that he has often excelled in the same wide-right role that Cisse occupies for club and country.
There is, however, one problem. Openly angry at his failure to make the final squad, Giuly has since jetted off to Australia on holiday and it remains to be seen whether he would accept the role of emergency fire-fighter.
Another possibility is Nicolas Anelka, recalled to the French side by Domenech in 2005 after a prolonged period of self-imposed exile. Again, however, and despite looking impressive in his friendly appearances, he was not included in the final 23 for the third consecutive occasion (1998, 2002 and 2006) and let his disappointment be known.
Another player with a fighting chance is Sydney Govou. The Lyon player has endured a somewhat difficult season at club level, but his renowned versatility might well work in his favour. France’s national team coach is also a known admirer of Govou, who is capable of playing in the centre, out wide, or even in a more defensive role.

Domenech, however, has carved out a well-deserved reputation for surprising everyone with his decisions, and Cisse’s replacement could well be none of the above. Florent Sinama-Pongolle has, in fact, emerged as a shock contender, with the Liverpool striker - who has spent the last few months on loan at Blackburn - thought to be firmly in the frame to replace his Anfield team-mate.
Robert Pires, Johan Micoud, Pegguy Luyindula and Daniel Moreira could also come into the reckoning and, if Domenech's time in charge has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.
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