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France v Lithuania

New recruit Hoarau living the Les Bleus dream

March 25, 2009

Guillaume Hoarau is still pinching himself following his call-up to France's squad ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Lithuania.

The Paris St Germain striker was summoned by Les Bleus as an injury replacement for Nicolas Anelka, who has been ruled out with what is believed to be a toe problem.

It is the latest achievement in what has been a wonderful season so far for Hoarau, who completed his move to PSG on a permanent basis from Le Havre last summer.

He is currently the second top scorer in Ligue 1 with 15 goals, and has also weighed in with important strikes for PSG en route to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

The 25-year-old cannot quite believe the progress he has made over the past couple of years.

"It has happened so quickly so there are things that I am not taking into account yet," said the Reunion-born Hoarau, who was farmed out by Le Havre on loan to fellow Ligue 2 side Gueugnon two seasons ago.

"I am going to train with guys who have always played at the very highest level, in the biggest competitions.

"I have a lot to learn over the next 10 days. It's sure that if you had told me two years ago where I would be now, I would not have believed you for one second.

"So I am not asking myself any questions and just making the most of it. I have worked like a madman to get to this stage. Now I am here, I don't see myself stopping there.

"The hardest thing is staying here and confirming what I have done. A lot more is going to be expected of me in the league so I am going to have to be stronger still to deserve wearing this international jersey."

Hoarau was overlooked by France for the original 23-man squad for the crunch Group Seven double-header against the Lithuanians, with coach Raymond Domenech preferring to go with another uncapped striker, Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Gignac, according to Domenech, had a better work rate and was more able to drop deeper and play out wide. The Toulouse striker celebrated his first international call-up by scoring his 18th league goal of the season in Sunday's 4-1 win over Hoarau's PSG in Ligue 1.

Hoarau has taken Domenech's comparisons into account but is confident he can bring his own abilities to the squad.

"He is the France coach so it has to be said that he has a very, very sharp eye," said Hoarau.

"You must listen to opinions. There is nobody better placed than him to talk about this.

"He has watched us both and you can't be disappointed about what he said because it is the truth. What 'Dede' does, I am not capable of doing.

"But we each have our qualities and that is why we are here today."

As it happens, it is unlikely either will start on Saturday in Kaunas in the first of the two matches that could decide France's World Cup qualifying fate.

Les Bleus are third in the pool, five points behind joint-leaders Serbia and Lithuania but with a game in hand.

Thierry Henry and Karim Benzema are the strikers who are likely to start at the weekend, leaving Rennes' Jimmy Briand as the other frontman battling with Gignac and Hoarau to be involved off the bench.

"What we are all hoping is that the France team win," said Hoarau.

"They are going to be two very difficult matches but there are six points to take.

"The players are quite intelligent enough to say to themselves that there isn't the time to be soul-searching."

Gignac has been nursing a thigh injury at the start of the week but Domenech is hopeful the striker will be available for Saturday.

Playmaker Yoann Gourcuff was rested on Tuesday but should return to training for the build-up to the match in Kaunas.