Koscielny is ready, assures Lloris

22 June 2012 05:48

Laurent Koscielny is ready to step into the breach against Spain despite having only made three international appearances, France captain Hugo Lloris declared on Friday.

A suspension for Philippe Mexes means that Koscielny will line up alongside Adil Rami in central defence as France bid to upset world and European champions Spain in their Euro 2012 quarter-final in Donetsk on Saturday.

It will be the first time the 26-year-old Arsenal centre-back has played in a competitive match for his country, but Lloris says he has no concerns about his team-mate's ability to step up a level.

"All the players are focused and ready," said the Lyon goalkeeper.

"He played well during the friendlies (prior to the tournament) and produced some good performances. He'll be ready for tomorrow (Saturday).

"He lacks a bit of playing time, but he'll make up for that with his desire and his commitment. He'll want to show that he's not here by accident."

A softly spoken individual, who can sometimes appear shy beneath the glare of the media spotlight, Lloris was something of a surprise choice to take on the French captaincy.

With France's players having reportedly exchanged angry words after their 2-0 loss to Sweden in Kiev on Tuesday, Lloris was asked what role he had played.

"In the changing room, there are different personalities," he replied.

"After a defeat there's lots of disappointment, but it's completely normal to react like that in the heat of the moment.

"Our goal is to make sure it lasts for as short a time as possible. We got things out of our system, then everyone calmed down, and now we're ready for the match tomorrow. That's the most important thing."

He added: "Everyone has the right to talk. It was a difficult moment, and some of the players felt a need to express themselves.

"What I want is for things to be constructive so that we can focus on our important match on Saturday. Since Wednesday, things have been sorted out and we're all thinking about Saturday's game."

Support for the French team has been conspicuous by its absence in Donetsk, with only a few thousand French fans believed to have made the trip to Ukraine to follow Blanc's side during the tournament.

Lloris, though, says it is not a source of concern for the players in the squad.

"It doesn't affect our motivation, I can assure you of that," he said.

"Of course we'd like to have more local support but that's how it is. We're focused on our performance, and what happens in the stands is secondary. When we get on the pitch, we're in our bubble.

"Maybe you should ask the supporters. We can't control that."

Source: AFP