Schneiderlin fighting Les Bleus after France snub

Posted by Martin Laurence,

Morgan Schneiderlin
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France could hand debuts to the likes of Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba when they face Georgia on Friday and are certainly a nation well stocked when it comes to the latter's central midfield position.

Newcastle have managed to bag themselves a handful of Les Bleus internationals, but when they hosted Southampton last month it was an opposing Frenchman who opened the scoring before Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Cabaye managed to find the net.

Though goal scoring is fairly low down on Morgan Schneiderlin's list of priorities, the 23-year-old midfielder has managed to supplement his superb defensive work with three strikes in his last six appearances, taking his tally to five for the season. In turn, takes a look at one of the in-form players in the Premier League right now, and why a call-up to Didier Deschamps' France squad shouldn't be too far away.

Schneiderlin made the move from Strasbourg as an 18-year-old, with Southampton quick to snap up the youth international while the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal both reportedly showed an interest. The teenager quickly established himself as a first team regular. Never having made less than 27 league appearances in a season in his five years at the club, he continued to be selected at youth level for France, playing for every available age category from Under-16 to Under-21.

While the defensive midfielder's form in front of goal has certainly been a surprise, with the two goals netted in 42 league appearances last season representing his previous best return, he earns his keep at the other end. In protecting a back four that has improved over the course of the season, Southampton owe a lot to the shield of Schneiderlin and Jack Cork.

The Frenchman has made more tackles this season than any other player in the Premier League, in fact his tally of 121 is over twenty more than second placed Steve Sidwell (99), as well as any other Frenchman in Europe's top five leagues. Schneiderlin is again way ahead in terms of interceptions and his overall tally of 112 is even further in front of the next best (80) in England's top flight. His reading of the game is superb for a player of his age and his figure is once more the best of any Frenchman available to Didier Deschamps.

It's not just the midfielder's job to win back the ball, however, as he is responsible for the most passes at the club (1470), while his accuracy of 84.5% is only bettered by Steven Davis of players to start at least 10 times for the newly promoted outfit this season. Schneiderlin is tasked with building a lot of Southampton's counter-attacking moves from deep and can pick a pass further upfield as well, creating 25 chances this season without registering an assist.

His main problem in terms of breaking into the senior international side is undoubtedly the competition for places in his position. Juve's Pogba is the latest name to get in ahead of the Saints midfielder, with the likes of Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi, Sissoko and Maxime Gonalons all in the most recent squad, disregarding the injured Rio Mavuba, out-of-favour Etienne Capoue and banished Yann M'Vila.

In terms of those to feature in recent internationals, Schneiderlin's style is perhaps most aligned to that of Lyon captain Gonalons. The 25-year-old is indeed his closest rival compatriot in terms of the aforementioned tackles tally this season (101). Gonalons has a similar role for the Ligue 1 title challengers, averaging more tackles, interceptions and passes per game than any team-mate, and the two cut a similarly sleight figure, winning plenty of aerial duels in midfield.

As many as five French central midfielders have a better WhoScored statistical rating this season than Schneiderlin's impressive 7.26 (15th overall), but his form since the turn of the year will surely have caught Deschamps' eye. The Southampton star's rating rises to 7.59 when just looking at league matches in 2013 - of which he has already played 11 - with that average only behind main man Franck Ribery of the Frenchman playing in Europe's top five leagues.

A wealth of competition in the midfield may have prevented Schneiderlin's progression on the international scene until now, but if the 23-year-old continues his current form he may take centre stage sooner rather than later.

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