France manager Didier Deschamps has described Olivier Giroud as being "very useful" for the national team despite the player being relegated to a bench role at Chelsea this season.
Giroud, 33, started at the Stade de France on Thursday and scored a 79th-minute penalty winner as Les Bleus came from a goal down to beat Moldova 2-1. France guaranteed their place at Euro 2020 after former Group H leaders Turkey drew 0-0 at home to Iceland.
Deschamps continues to include Giroud in his plans despite the player making only one Premier League start since Frank Lampard took over at Chelsea, and the France coach told reporters:
“Is he indispensable? Because of what he does—whether he's indispensable or not—he's very useful, very effective. His goal didn't give us qualification—we already had that—but it's allowed us to take back first place.
“What he doesn't have at Chelsea, he has here with us. He remains in the starting XI, and it's not just been today or yesterday, it's been a long time. Even when he has periods when he scores fewer goals, he allows the players around him to have opportunities and to score goals, too.”
French football writer Jeremy Smith acknowledged Giroud looked like he was lacking match fitness after failing to feature regularly for his club this term:
Giroud's strike against Moldova was his 39th in French colours and leaves him just two behind Michel Platini (41), the second-highest scorer in the team's history. Former Arsenal and Barcelona star Thierry Henry is France's all-time leading scorer with 51 goals.
Thursday's goal means Giroud has scored in France's past three successive matches (two penalties), each of which have been crucial to the team's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
The former Gunners frontman netted a 1-0 winner from the spot away to Iceland on October 14, days before he bagged the opener in a 1-1 home draw against Turkey.
Giroud has played 20 minutes of a possible 810 over the course of Chelsea's past nine Premier League games.
Goal's Nizaar Kinsella recently highlighted Lampard's growing preference to use Michy Batshuayi as a deputy striker behind Tammy Abraham:
Deschamps has kept the faith in Giroud, who has thus far contrasted well alongside quicker players in attack, such as Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
Darren Lewis of the Mirror recently wrote Borussia Dortmund are interested in the Chelsea man, and commentator Kevin Hatchard backed Giroud to do well at the Westfalenstadion:
France conclude their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign away to Albania on Sunday, when they'll hope to cement their place atop Group H.