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Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists that France will severely harm their chances of winning Euro 2016 if they do not select Karim Benzema in their squad.
The forward has been suspended from representing Les Bleus by the French Football Federation until an investigation into his alleged involvement in a blackmail scandal against international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena is concluded.
France are the hosts of this summer’s European Championship and Zidane believes their chances of winning the tournament on home soil will be diminished if they uphold Real striker Benzema’s ban.
He said: “France cannot afford to ignore a player of Benzema’s calibre. When we look at his numbers and everything he does on the field, we cannot let a play of this level go.”
Benzema, who plays under Zidane in Madrid, has scored 27 goals in 81 international appearances for France since making his debut in 2007, and he has represented Les Bleus at the European Championships of 2008 and 2012 as well as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
France have been drawn in Group A where they will first take on Romania in the opening match of Euro 2016 on June 10, before they face further matches against Albania five days later and Switzerland on June 19.
Didier Deschamps’ side are priced at 1.36 to finish top of the group, whilst they are on offer at 1.02 to secure their place in the last 16 of the competition.