Fekir not feeling the pressure ahead of possible debut


As France prepare to take on Brazil in a friendly, Nabil Fekir is not fazed by the possibility of making his debut for Didier Deschamps' side.

The Lyon attacker opted for France over Algeria earlier this month and was given his first senior call-up by head coach Deschamps.

As hosts of Euro 2016, France's build-up over the next 15 months will consist solely of friendlies, with a clash against Denmark in Saint-Etienne to come three days after Thursday's meeting with Brazil at the Stade de France.

Fekir is enjoying a fine season with Ligue 1 title contenders Lyon, having netted 11 goals in 26 appearances for Hubert Fournier's men and he is thrilled to be part of the international set-up.

"I'm proud to be here," he told the French Football Federation's official website.

"I hope that this week goes really well. I hope to integrate myself into the group and to play a little time, but I do not put pressure on myself."

France are missing two influential players for the game, as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Paul Pogba are absent with respective knee and hamstring problems.

With skipper Lloris unavailable, Deschamps appears hesitant to hand the captaincy duties to Karim Benzema.

​"I do not think that Karim may need the armband," he said. "He is the leader of our attack.

"He is part of the senior players and he has very good experience. Anyway, it would not change his status in the team, or his influence on the pitch."

Benzema scored the only goal the last time these two sides met at the Stade de France in 2011 while 13 years prior to that, Deschamps was the captain of the France side that defeated Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup final at the same venue.

Since losing the 2014 World Cup quarter-final to Germany, France have gone unbeaten in their six friendly outings, which include wins over Spain, Portugal and Sweden.

Brazil have also been in impressive form, rattling off six straight wins since their dramatic World Cup demise, scoring 14 goals and conceding just once in the process.

Head coach Dunga was the losing captain in the 1998 final and, now in his second stint in charge of the team after Luiz Felipe Scolari's departure following their World Cup exit, has recalled Robinho on the back of the forward's recent good form for Santos.

At the other end of the field, injuries to the Paris Saint-Germain duo of David Luiz and Marquinhos have seen Dunga bring Gabriel Paulista into the squad, and the Arsenal man is delighted to have been called up for the first time.

"I am very happy with the news, and it is a dream for any player to wear the shirt of your country," he told Arsenal's official website.

"I'll play the best possible way. It is a valuable opportunity and I hope that is the first call of many.

"It will be an incentive for me to continue working hard at Arsenal. It will not be easy, because the Brazilian team has great quality, but I will work hard to get my place in the team."