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Leicester City's N'Golo Kante named in the France squad for first time

N'Golo Kante
Image: N'Golo Kante been a stand-out in Leicester's title push this season

Leicester City's N'Golo Kante has been named in the France squad for the first time.

The talismanic midfielder has been called up for the upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Russia.

Dimitri Payet of West Ham has also been included in Didier Deschamps' 23-man selection.

Kante has been an integral part of Leicester's unlikely rise to the summit of English football this season; he has made more tackles and interceptions (247) than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

His selection came on the same day Roy Hodgson called up Kante's midfielder partner Danny Drinkwater to the England squad for the first time.

Danny Drinkwater of Leicester City celebrates
Image: Danny Drinkwater included in England squad for first time

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri feels that international call ups are just reward for the efforts of his previously unsung players.

He said: "N'Golo Kanté understood immediately the tempo and rhythm of the Premier League. He is a strong player. This is another step. Some players who haven't been with their national teams now start to get called up.

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"It's good because it means we're working well. He (Drinkwater) deserves it because all season he's working well with good quality and is now scoring goals.

"He's always available for his team-mates. He has the personality to command a game and has a very good partnership with Kante."

France manager Didier Deschamps
Image: France manager Didier Deschamps

Kante takes the place of Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin in Deschamps' squad.

"N'Golo Kante is putting in high-level performances," Deschamps said.

As for Schneiderlin, Deschamps added: "It's not that I don't have confidence in Morgan, I know what he can do, but before making final decisions (on the Euro 2016 squad) it's important that N'Golo comes with us to get more answers."

Dimitri Payet of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal during The Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Blackburn
Image: Dimitri Payet of West Ham is also included for the two friendly matches

West Ham forward Payet moved to London last summer and has scored 11 times as Slaven Bilic's side enjoy one of their best ever Premier League campaigns.

Fellow English-based stars Hugo Lloris, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Olivier Giroud and Anthony Martial are all in the squad for the pair of March friendlies.

France 23-man squad:  

Goalkeepers: Benoît Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Jérémy Mathieu (Barcelona), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Lassana Diarra (Marseille), Ngolo Kanté (Leicester), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle) 

Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres de Monterrey), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham)

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