France’s Deschamps backs Mbappe, Kimpembe to shrug off PSG struggles

France manager Didier Deschamps has backed striker Kylian Mbappe and defender Presnel Kimpembe to shrug off their struggles at Paris Saint-Germain and put their best foot forward if called upon to play at home to South Africa in a friendly on Tuesday.

PSG have struggled in recent weeks, losing 3-0 to AS Monaco in Ligue 1 earlier this month, 11 days after being knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Real Madrid.

Kimpembe was below-par in both matches and was left on the bench for France’s 2-1 win over Ivory Coast last week, while Mbappe, who was possibly the only irreproachable player in PSG’s defeats, has cut a frustrated figure recently.

“Since (Mbappe) arrived, he is radiant, he is smiling, he is as we know him,” Deschamps told reporters on Monday. “Elimination with PSG is already behind him. He is part of the group, he knows that he is important for the group.

“I’m not going to judge (Kimpembe) on these matches at PSG. He has no more worries. He played many matches with us.

“He may have periods when he plays less well but I know that I can count on him. He has lost nothing, he has gained nothing.”

Deschamps also provided an update on the fitness of midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni and Paul Pogba, who both missed training in the build-up to Tuesday’s match.

“Aurelien Tchouameni has been in a feverish state since yesterday,” Deschamps said. “Paul Pogba received a kick on the foot in the last game.

“We will check this with the medical staff tomorrow (Tuesday) to find out if they can play against South Africa.”

The France boss added that goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who has put in several good performances for AC Milan in Serie A this season, will make his first France start against South Africa.

“Yes, he will start tomorrow,” Deschamps said. “He has constantly progressed. It is a very good thing. Mike is a quiet force, and add to that his character as a leader.”

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