The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Good break for French rookies

Paris: Jacques Santini will take a peek into the future when the Confederations Cup begins on Wednesday — handing opportunities to a new generation of French players.

In the absence of Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele, David Trezeguet and Patrick Vieira, the tournament will offer a chance for others to stake their claims for a place in Euro 2004.

Coach Santini will be particularly keen to find out whether Monaco’s Jerome Rothen and Olympique Lyon striker Sidney Govou are strong enough to play at the highest level.

There could also be opportunities for AJ Auxerre’s Olivier Kapo and Philippe Mexes.

“The Confederations Cup is the perfect opportunity to show I can play at international level,” Govou said, as the defending champions prepared for their opening Group A match against Colombia in Lyon on Wednesday. “It will be a transition between last year’s World Cup and the future.”

The gifted Kapo has Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord ahead of him in the pecking order, while defender Mexes has stiff competition from French cap record holder Marcel Desailly, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre.

Benoit Pedretti could find an easier path into the team. The Sochaux midfielder appears to be the natural successor to Emmanuel Petit — a player whose international appearances have been limited of late.

Pedretti already has four caps and he impressed with his strength and speed during France’s 5-0 demolition of Egypt in April.

“I’m here to work and improve,” said the 22-year-old Pedretti.

Fabien Barthez, often criticised at Manchester United, remains Santini’s first-choice goalkeeper in front of Lyon’s Gregory Coupet.

Nantes’ Mickael Landreau seems to have won his number three battle with Bordeaux’s Ullrich Rame and Paris St Germain’s Lionel Letizi after being called up for the squad.

France have also been drawn in Group A with New Zealand and Japan, while Group B comprises Cameroon, Brazil, Turkey and the United States.

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