Arsenal defender to lose his international place for good?

With Laurent Koscielny suspended, the Arsenal defender is set to be replaced by youngster Raphael Varane.

Varane, who is still just 20 years old, has established himself as a key player in the Real Madrid squad after his 2011 move from French side Lens, where Los Blancos fought off stern competition from Manchester United to secure his signature – and now, with three caps already under his belt, Varane has the chance to nail down a position in the back four.

The opportunity comes in less than ideal circumstances, with France trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff with Ukraine and Koscielny missing for the return leg tonight having been sent off in Friday's disappointment. Varane missed the game in Kiev with a knee injury, but manager Didier Deschamps is confident that the youngster will be fit to take his place.

"He has made a gradual recovery," Deschamps said. "Today everything leads me to believe he is available."

With the ageing Eric Abidal struggling for form at centre back, a positive display by Varane against Ukraine should put him in contention to be a regular starter with the French national team, whether that be alongside Koscielny or even Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United target Eliaquim Mangala.

After being rated at 3/10 by the Daily Mail for his display against Ukraine, Koscielny now has to sit out and watch on as the youngster Varane gets the opportunity to make the position his own. When Koscielny has a bad game, it tends to be fair catastrophic, and that risk may just work in Varane's favour tonight.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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