Star attacker will not participate in France’s opening match against Australia, according to French media.

French striker Karim Benzema has to undergo medical tests after being injured in the defending champion’s opening game against Australia on Saturday.

The Real Madrid striker has been struggling with a thigh problem since October and has played less than half an hour of football in his club’s last six games.

The 34-year-old’s return to full training has been limited by the injury with tests to be conducted later on Saturday to determine its nature and severity, a source close to Les Bleus told AFP news agency.

L’Equipe reported that Benzema this year winner of the Ballon d’Or“will in any case not participate in the first game” of France’s campaign at the risk of not playing in any game.

The sports newspaper said Benzema “felt a sharp muscle pain” in his left thigh during training.

French striker Karim Benzema
French striker Karim Benzema (C) controls the ball during a training session [Franck Fife/AFP]

This was Benzema’s first time participating in a full training session since Didier Deschamps’ side met at their French headquarters in Clairefontaine last Monday.

Under FIFA rules, Deschamps has until Monday, on the eve of their first game against Australia, to call up a replacement for an injured player.

Doubts about Benzema’s fitness are a major headache for Deschamps, who is already deprived of the services of midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, number two goalkeeper Mike Maignan, defender Presnel Kimpembe and striker Christopher Nkunku.

Benzema, who won the Ballon d’Or last month, has not played a full game since October 19.

He and Raphael Varane trained separately from the rest of the squad on Thursday in a session open to the media at the home stadium of Qatari champion Al Sadd.

Manchester United centre-back Varane has not played a game since coming down in tears against Chelsea on October 22.

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