Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka dealt French World Cup ambitions a blow on Monday when he withdrew from a critical qualifying double against Lithuania with a toe problem.
France coach Raymond Domenech has now called up Paris St Germain marksman Guillaume Hoarau for Saturday’s Group Seven clash at Kaunas and the return in Paris on April 1. The French currently trail leaders Serbia and Lithuania by five points, but have a game in hand as they bid to qualify for next year’s finals in South Africa. Anelka aggravated a bruised toe in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Tottenham that left Chelsea in third place four points behind leaders Manchester United and three adrift of European opponents Liverpool. Reports suggest Anelka could be sidelined for up to three weeks, ruling him out of the Premier League clash at Newcastle on April 4. The following midweek Chelsea face Liverpool, one of Anelka’s former clubs, in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg tie at Anfield. The return leg is at Stamford Bridge on April 14 and four days later Chelsea face Arsenal in an FA Cup semifinals at Wembley.