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Raphael Varane returns to training ahead of first World Cup game

France's defender Raphael Varane takes part during training session at the team's training camp in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, south of Paris, on November 15, 2022, five days ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament.

Manchester United central defender Raphael Varane has returned to full training with France ahead of the 2022 World Cup, according to L’Equipe.

The former Real Madrid and Lens player has handed France coach Didier Deschamps a fitness boost ahead of their opening group game against Australia on Tuesday.

Varane had been training away from the group but has joined his first session in Qatar. He was working his way back to fitness for three weeks and is now ready.

He suffered the injury during his club’s draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 22. He came off in the 60th minute after over-stretching to clear the ball before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could get to it.

Varane walked off the pitch in tears with the club physiotherapist and doctor. After tests, he was diagnosed with a lesion of the biceps femoris.

He was a doubt for the tournament, but then optimism increased that he would recover in time.

The thigh injury did not stop Deschamps from calling up Varane, one of the most experienced heads on the team. The 29-year-old is one of his trusted defensive generals and the squad’s vice-captain.

It is uncertain if Varane will be in the line-up for the game on Tuesday, but he will be fit for the other matches.

The story is not so good for teammate Karim Benzema, who returned to training alongside Varane.

The 34-year-old has been struggling with injuries this season but managed to be fit to receive a call-up. Benzema has been training away from the group but joined for his first session today.

However, Benzema suffered an injury during the session and did not complete it. He has now gone for scans to determine the extent of his problem.

At the moment, Benzema will only miss the game against Australia. But if the results are worse, he could pull out of the tournament altogether.

Deschamps has only until Monday to call up a new striker to replace Benzema. He may decide to stick with Olivier Giroud and Marcus Thuram. Randal Kolo Muani can also operate as a striker if required.

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