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France welcome back 14 players including Dupont, Ntamack and Jalibert

By Ian Cameron
Press Association

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France have welcomed back 14 players to their Guinness Six Nations squad after Covid-19 and various injuries took a toll on their preparations last week.

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Fabien Galthie’s side will now have a week to prepare in Marcoussis with a full complement of players for their opening game against Italy next Sunday, February 6 in Paris.

It is unclear when or if Galthie’s will swing the axe for the players he called up last week to replace the raft of absentees, many of them from Toulouse, who were unable to join the team in Aubagne due to positive tests.

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Galthie issued a positive update earlier in the week, saying: “We keep in touch with all the players from afar, of course,” said Galthie. “We have good news concerning the players and their state of health and spirit and all are doing well.”

Particularly welcome will be the mercurial Antoine Dupont. The Toulouse nine has not played since December 11 due to a combination of postponements, fatigue and injury.

“I have spoken to him: he is doing well. He resumed training two weeks ago. He wanted to play against Cardiff but the match did not go ahead.”

Despite the disruption, Les Bleus are tournament favourites with a number of bookmakers on the back of winning each of their three autumn matches, including beating New Zealand. It was a first victory over the All Blacks on home soil since 2009 and has lifted expectations heading into the tournament.

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RETURNING PLAYERS
Uini Atonio (Stade Rochelais, 39 Sélections)
Cyril Baille (Stade Toulousain, 31 Sélections)
Gaëtan Barlot (Castres Olympique, 4 Sélections)
Paul Boudehent (Stade Rochelais, 0 Sélection)
François Cros (Stade Toulousain, 11 Sélections)
Anthony Jelonch (Stade Toulousain, 14 Sélections)
Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92, 47 Sélections)
Antoine Dupont (Stade Toulousain, 35 Sélections)
Jules Favre (Stade Rochelais, 0 Sélection)
Matthieu Jalibert (Union Bordeaux Bègles, 13 Sélections)
Matthis Lebel (Stade Toulousain, 1 Sélection)
Romain Ntamack (Stade Toulousain, 23 Sélections)
Donovan Taofifenua (Racing 92, 0 Sélection)
Tani Vili (Asm Clermont Auvergne, 0 Sélection)

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