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France can live without Vieira: Makelele

A decision on whether Viera can stay at the tournament will be taken on Sunday.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, Vevey, Switzerland
UPDATED ON JUN 06, 2008 09:30 PM IST

Claude Makelele said France could survive without captain Patrick Vieira, who will miss their opening Euro 2008 match because of a thigh injury.

"Pat is an important player but we can live without him if we have to," Makelele told reporters on Friday.

Vieira, who damaged his left thigh muscle in training last week, has been ruled out of France's opening Group C game against Romania in Zurich on Monday.

A decision on whether he stays at the tournament will be taken on Sunday.

Makelele said he hoped fellow holding midfielder Vieira, who resumed training on Thursday, would be fit for the rest of the finals.

"He's back in training and he's feeling better and better," said Makelele at France's Swiss base. "I really hope he will stay with us."

France have no shortage of holding midfielders in their squad, with Jeremy Toulalan expected to replace Vieira on Monday and Lassana Diarra another option.

"We always play with the same system with two midfielders in front of the defence," Makelele said.

"I can adapt. Whether I play with Pat, Jeremy or Lassana does not really make a difference for me."

Makelele, aware his team face a struggle to qualify with Netherlands and world champions Italy also in the group, said France must focus on keeping a clean sheet against Romania.

"Our strength has to come from the back," he said. "First of all we must concentrate on not conceding a goal.

"The important thing is not to lose that quality we have at the back, knowing that up front we have players capable of scoring at any time."

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