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Domenech meets with Thuram and Makelele over future

Written by: Staff

PARIS, Aug 23 (Reuters) France coach Raymond Domenech said on Wednesday he has met with defender Lilian Thuram and midfielder Claude Makelele in an effort to convince them to continue their international careers.

Domenech is to unveil tomorrow his squad for France's first two qualifying matches for the 2008 European championship.

France will visit Georgia on Sept. 2 before they host Italy at the Stade de France four days later in a re-match of the World Cup final.

''We talked about the World Cup, about the past and about the future too. We talked about many things,'' Domenech said in a taped interview on the web site of the French football federation.

''They still have the passion and the will because they know what playing for France really means,'' Domenech said. ''I tried to deliver the message. They are far from being too old.

''One (Thuram) plays for Barcelona and the other (Makelele) plays for Chelsea. I have no worries about their immediate future,'' he said.

Thuram, 34, is France's most experienced player with a record of 121 caps while 33-year-old Makelele has made 50 appearances for Les Bleus.

Thuram and Makelele played key roles during the World Cup campaign as France unexpectedly reached the final, only losing to Italy on penalties in the July 9 final in Berlin.

With the inspirational Zinedine Zidane out of the picture for good, Domenech hopes he can count on the Barcelona defender and the Chelsea midfielder with a tough qualifying campaign for the Euro 2008 looming.

France were drawn with Italy, Ukraine, Scotland, Lithuania, Georgia and the Faroe Islands in Group B.

Thuram, who had shelved his international career after France's disappointing campaign at European 2004 in Portugal, returned in August 2005 to help his country qualify for the World Cup in Germany.

But Thuram recently stressed that things are different now and no-one will force him back if he does not feel like it.

Makelele has been more discreet about his future, only saying that he still has to make up his mind.

''I talked to them but I can't say anything for now,'' Domenech added, refusing to provide any clues. ''The squad will be unveiled at 1100 (0900 GMT) on Thursday.'' REUTERS DH RN2119

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