Didier Deschamps gives fresh hope to Dimitri Payet's international career
France head coach Didier Deschamps says he is following the progress of Leicester's N'Golo Kante and that there is still hope for West Ham's Dimitri Payet and Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte.
Kante, 24, has been in great form for Leicester this season but earlier this month the midfielder said he was still unsure about whether he would represent France or Mali, his parents' home country, at international level.
Deschamps has been tipped to call on Kante for France's friendlies against Netherlands and Russia next month, but the former Marseille and Monaco coach warned that there is plenty of competition in central midfield.
"We're following him," Deschamps told French TV programme Canal Football Club.
"At Caen he was putting in some good performances. Leicester are having a surprising season and he's performing very well.
"There are experienced players [in the France squad] and it's up to them to continue to perform well.
"If at some point I think that there is a player who can bring something more compared to another who's already there, I'll select him."
Dimitri Payet has been out of favour with Deschamps but the West Ham midfielder caught the eye again with two goals in their 5-1 FA Cup win at Blackburn.
Having scored eight goals and made nine more since moving to England in the summer Payet, 28, has been frustrated by a lack of recognition at international level.
But Deschamps indicated that he is yet to be convinced that Payet can surpass the talent in his existing squad.
"He has very interesting statistics but on the left I have a lot of players," Deschamps said.
"The competition is Griezmann, Martial, Valbuena or even Ben Arfa, Coman and Fekir.
"It's not an attitude problem," Deschamps said.
"He's someone who's performing very well for his club. He's not playing as a playmaker for West Ham. He's playing in a 4-3-3 where he's often on the left side.
"He was also playing well with Marseille... With France, he's not done the same as with his club."
Aymeric Laporte, 21, is another player on Deschamps' radar, although the Athletic Bilbao centre back has often discussed the possibility of switching allegiance to Spain.
"When you're picked for the under-21s, it's like you're shortlisted for the senior squad," Deschamps said.
"It's good that he might have chosen France. He's captain of the under-21s who have important matches coming up.
"There are under-21s who graduated to the senior squad very quickly like Anthony Martial or Kingsley Coman."