Alan Pardew believes Newcastle United could have five players representing France in the World Cup.
The manager reckons Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and even Yoan Gouffran, whose recent form suggests he would at least stand a slim chance, could make the trip to Brazil next summer.
On-loan Loic Remy’s time at St James’ Park may be over by the time the squad is announced, however, he is almost certain to make the squad, which would take the Geordie quota to six.
Pardew expects Didier Deschamps to be a regular presence at Newcastle games this season to check up on the French contingent.
And the Newcastle boss believes the head coach will be impressed with what he sees. Pardew said: “We have suddenly emerged as a very important part of the French group.
“You’d like to think Mapou has a chance. Debuchy has got himself in front of Bacary Sagna at the moment. Cabaye is in the team and Remy has come into the reckoning.
“Moussa has come on in the Ukraine game and we’ve still got Gouffran who could threaten. We’re very important to the French.
“It’s been a really good international break for us. Most of our players have made it to the World Cup barring Papiss Cisse.
“The French lads coming from 2-0 down to win 3-0 is an enormous boost for them. With Cabaye at the centre of that and Debuchy playing so well again, it is really good news for us.
“Our guys are really pleased about that and now it’s about focusing on a really important game for their club (against Norwich tomorrow).
“I’m not sure if they could all go. I certainly think the French manager will come to our games because we are carrying a big part of his squad and therefore we’re a very important side for France, for sure.”
Pardew insisted the hard work done before a ball was kicked has proved to be an enormous benefit to his would-be World Cup stars.
He said: “We did a fantastic pre-season. The guys who prepared the team did so with our players who could go to the World Cup in mind. That’s a conversation we had with them in the summer.
“We said you’re going to have the toughest pre-season we’ve ever had because you’ve got a World Cup at the end of it and you all want to be at your best . We’ve probably got a team in the best condition I’ve ever had.”
Cabaye in particular was superb against Ukraine in Paris, after being left out of the first leg.
Pardew said: “I think they called him Le Petit Prince after the game because of what he did. It shows our valuation of him in the summer is justified. I went to see Portugal and Sweden and he is way above them (their midfielders). He is an important player for France. He sat in front of their back four and pulled the strings.”
Pardew may tinker with his side tomorrow due to the stresses undergone by his players over the past few days.
But the fact so many of his squad have Brazil on his mind is, in his opinion, only a good thing.
Pardew said: “Long term, towards the end of the season, when you get players who are desperate to get in that squad, that’s going to have an impact on this team, in a positive way.”