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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK

Papin: attack at the double

By Etienne Charpentier

There is little doubt that France coach Roger Lemerre is spoilt for choice.

Not only can he deliberate between Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet for the sole centre forward role in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, but he has the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Sylvain Wiltord kicking their heels in the wings.

But, with such an embarrassment of riches, and on the basis you cannot have too much of a good thing, one legendary French striker believes Lemerre needs to be more flexible with the way he selects his forwards.

" Trezeguet is a natural goal-scorer who will bang them in whatever the situation "
Jean-Pierre Papin

Rather than Henry or Trezeguet, how about the Arsenal hitman and his Juventus counterpart, asks former France frontman Jean-Pierre Papin.

"I like the idea of Trezeguet in the middle, Henry buzzing around him on one flank and I would have had Robert Pires, before he was injured, on the other," said Papin, who scored 30 goals in 54 games for Les Bleus.

"Henry needs space behind the defenders to exploit his pace, which he gets in England but might not get at the World Cup.

"He could be extremely dangerous cutting in from the wing and I'm sure he'd be prepared to sacrifice the No 9 shirt if asked to for the good of the team."

Zinedine Zidane, of course, would be wearing the No 10, conducting this goal-scoring orchestra.

In the run-up to the World Cup, and before an injury ended Pires' season, Lemerre, however, has preferred not to associate Henry and Trezeguet, even though they used to play together at Monaco.

It is always one or the other, with Henry often getting the vote in recent months, with Pires on the right and either Wiltord or Christophe Dugarry on the left.

That has left Trezeguet frustrated on the bench, relegated to a super-sub role he feels he has grown out of after proving himself in arguably the toughest league for strikers to ply their trade. A fact backed up by Papin.

"Trezeguet is a natural goal-scorer, who'll bang them in whatever the situation," he said.

" Why should France do without one or the other when we can have both of them "
Jean-Michel Larque

A long-term injury to Pires may now change things, but while Trezeguet has pleaded with Lemerre for more playing time in the past, the coach has stuck to his resolutions, and has often been proved right.

When Trezeguet came off the bench to score France's memorable Euro 2000 final winner, it wasn't a first.

Trezeguet has made a habit of grabbing late goals for his country, including the strike that sealed a 3-2 win over Iceland and France's ticket to the Euro 2000 tournament.

Still, can any team really afford to leave Trezeguet or Henry out?

Jean-Michel Larque, the former Saint-Etienne midfielder who has become an institution in French TV's commentary box, thinks not.

Larque goes along with Papin.

"Why should France do without one or the other when we can have both of them?" Larque asked.

"They are used to playing together from their Monaco days and with Trezeguet in the middle and Henry on the wing, I can see France making hatfuls of chances.''


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