Euro 2012: Yann M'Vila Says He Will Be Ready to Play Against Ukraine on Friday
After Yann M'Vila sprained his ankle in the opening minute of France's penultimate warmup friendly for the Euros—a May 31 match against Serbia—he labored for five minutes, trying desperately to shrug off the knock before finally being forced to leave the field.
Once he reached the sideline, the magnitude of what the injury might mean for him and for his potential inclusion in the upcoming tournament—his first major competition—overwhelmed him.
M'Vila was seen in tears in the France dugout before finally heading into the locker room for X-rays and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Fortunately, scans revealed that the injury was not severe enough to rule out M'Vila for the entire European Championships, although he was expected to miss France's Group D opener against England as a precautionary measure.
France team doctor Fabrice Bryand called M'Vila's progress in the week leading up to the Euros "spectacular," however, and the 21-year-old Rennes midfielder impressed Bryand enough in training that manager Laurent Blanc named him to the substitutes' list for Monday's match.
M'Vila did not play against the Three Lions—Alou Diarra, his replacement at central defensive midfielder, was spectacular apart from one blemish (which proved a costly one, as Diarra's lax marking allowed Joleon Lescott to head home England's goal in the eventual 1-1 draw)—but he says he will be ready come Friday.
That is the day of France's second group stage match against co-hosts Ukraine, who emerged 2-1 winners in their own opener against Sweden.
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Speaking of headers, France will need to be at their resolute best in defense to contain the aerial threat of Andriy Shevchenko, who scored both Ukraine's goals with well-timed and well-placed headers.
Could M'Vila be called upon for that encounter? He certainly feels he will be ready.
"[The ankle] is still a bit sore, but when I've warmed it up, it's fine," M'Vila told L'Equipe after the England match (the interview was carried in the June 12 print edition).
"It'll be OK, I'll be ready," M'Vila reassured the media. "It will help to have three days to continue my recovery."
M'Vila was a key member of France's European qualifying campaign, appearing in eight games for Blanc's side while forming a superb partnership in central midfield with Yohan Cabaye.
Given Diarra's stellar performance against England, however, there is no need to rush M'Vila back into a starting role, which will be reassuring for Blanc.
While the France manager prefers relying on players who contributed significantly to the qualifying campaign ahead of more unseasoned ones (see: Philippe Mexes starting ahead of Laurent Koscielny), Blanc is familiar with Diarra from their days at Bordeaux (2007-10).
He included the midfielder in the France selection for the Euros despite Diarra's indifferent form for Marseille this season, which had rendered him subject for debate among many media outlets.
Now, Blanc's choice looks quite sage in the grand scheme of things. He may just prefer to start Diarra once more, and hopefully bring M'Vila on as a late substitute, should France find themselves in the lead.
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