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World Cup: France loses starting midfielder Lassana Diarra to illness

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France's World Cup prospects suffered a setback Saturday when starting midfielder Lassana Diarra was forced to withdraw from Coach Raymond Domenech's squad because of an undetermined stomach ailment.

Diarra, 25, developed "intestinal pains" when the players went on a glacier hike at their training camp in the French alpine town of Tignes. He had not trained for the last three days.

The French did not allow reporters access to their medical personnel, but a team spokesman said: "Medical tests have revealed an unforeseeable illness which justifies a rest period. As a consequence, Lassana Diarra will miss the World Cup."

The Real Madrid starter has played 27 matches for France and was a regular feature during qualifying for South Africa 2010.

Jean-Pierra Escalettes, president of the French soccer federation, said he regretted Diarra having to miss the 32-nation tournament that begins June 11.

"He could have had enormous value to the team because of his mental strength," Escalettes told L'Equipe. "It is dramatic that he should miss the World Cup. He will play more [such tournaments] because he is young, but I have great sorrow for him."

--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Midfielder Lassana Diarra talks to Coach Raymond Domenech during France's practice on Thursday. Credit: Charles Platiau/ Reuters

 
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