France hopeful masked Kylian Mbappé can face Netherlands

LEIPZIG, Germany -- France coach Didier Deschamps said he assumes Kylian Mbappé will be available for the Euro 2024 game against the Netherlands on Friday.

"Everything is going well, after the shock we had. He was able to take part in some light exercises yesterday, and that will be the same this evening. Everything is evolving in the right direction," Deschamps said Thursday. "We'll do all we can to ensure that he'll be available tomorrow."

Mbappé broke his nose in France's opening 1-0 win over Austria on Monday when his face collided with Austria defender Kevin Danso's shoulder. Blood stained his white France jersey. If he plays, he'll need to wear a mask.

Mbappé trained wearing a blue, white and red face mask on Thursday.

He spent some time fidgeting with his new headgear before he joined his teammates in running exercises. He lifted it up to speak to Olivier Giroud, then put it back on again as he stretched between Giroud and Antoine Griezmann. However, Mbappé again didn't join in with the full session with the rest of the squad.

"Kylian will be wearing a mask," Deschamps confirmed to journalists. "We don't need to know the details of this mask. I think you have enough moles to know where the mask is coming from."

Mbappé returned to light training on Wednesday after undergoing tests on his nose injury.

Buildup to Friday's match has been dominated by speculation on whether the France captain can play.

"Without risks, there are no victories," Mbappé had written on Instagram.

If he does play, the Real Madrid-bound star will hope to finally score at a European Championship at the sixth attempt. Mbappé has 47 goals in 80 games for France, including 12 in qualifying for the Euros, but he has yet to score in five games at the tournament.

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman was coy about whether he'd like Mbappé to play.

The France forward scored two and set up another goal as Les Bleus routed the Netherlands 4-0 at home in qualifying, then scored both goals as France defeated Koeman's team 2-1 in Amsterdam. The Dutch were group runners-up.

"France is such a strong team, that even if Mbappé is not playing, the substitute will be a great player as well," Koeman said. "All we can do is try to influence our team and prepare ourselves as best as we can.

"Not everything depends on whether Mbappé is there or not. We know that he can be a game changer. He had a big influence on the last two games, two qualification games, but it doesn't depend on us."

France and the Netherlands are level on three points in Group D. The Dutch came from behind to beat Poland 2-1, and France needed an own goal to beat Austria.

France have won seven of the teams' past eight meetings, including home and away victories in qualifying.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.