Dembele two-year France absence is over

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Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele has been recalled to the France squad after an absence of more than two years, with coach Didier Deschamps keen to use his speed and versatility in attack for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Dembele, who helped France win the World Cup in 2018, last played for his country in November of that year against the Netherlands.

"He's always been an interesting player and he also has the capacity to play in several attacking positions," Deschamps said when naming his squad on Thursday.

"He's got his athletic qualities back and he's always had the ability to make a difference."

The 23-year-old has struggled with injury problems and inconsistency over the past two years but has found his form again to become a key player in Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman's improving team, scoring eight goals this season.

"He's had quite a few injuries, but for a few weeks now he's had quite a lot of matches," Deschamps said. "He's found the level he had before."

Deschamps included Dembele in a 26-man squad for this month's qualifiers against Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dembele has scored two goals in 21 appearances for France, 13 of which have been as a substitute.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar and Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola have also been recalled to the national team after a long time out.

Lemar, who has been in good form for the Spanish league leaders, won the last of his 22 caps for Les Bleus in a European Championship qualifier in November 2019.