PARIS (AFP) - The international future of Patrick Vieira could be decided on Thursday when France coach Raymond Domenech names his squad for the World Cup qualifying play-off against Ireland on November 14 and 18.
The 33-year-old Inter Milan defensive midfielder has 107 caps for his country and is nominally the current captain but he has not featured for Les Bleus since a 1-0 friendly defeat at home to Nigeria in June.
"Patrick's playing time means he still can't be called up, but I'm not worried, I've spoken to him on the telephone and we've agreed that he needs to start playing again," said Domenech in October.
The former Arsenal and Juventus man had been struggling with a series of injuries that kept him on the sidelines but he has recently forced his way back into the Inter side.
On October 17 Vieira scored the fourth goal in Inter's 5-0 win over Genoa, while he produced a strong performance and supplied an assist in Sunday's 2-0 victory at Livorno.
"Patrick has been vital for us," said Inter coach Jose Mourinho, whose side have already opened up a seven-point lead at the top of Serie A.
"I think he played his best match for Inter since I've been here. It shows that he feels good and that, if the injuries are behind him, he'll be really important for the team."
Vieira has certainly advanced a strong case for inclusion in Domenech's squad, but France have grown used to playing without him in his absence.
Lassana Diarra of Real Madrid and Jeremy Toulalan of Lyon are Domenech's preferred central midfield partnership and they would appear to have every chance of remaining first-choice should France qualify.
Questions remain. Will Domenech risk unsettling the Diarra-Toulalan axis to accommodate Vieira? Is there any point in calling up Vieira if he won't play? And if Vieira is not called up on Thursday, does that mean that Domenech is prepared to go to South Africa without him in the event of qualification?
Domenech has already been deprived of the services of injured left-back Gael Clichy (back) and winger Franck Ribery (knee), both of whom will miss the two games against Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland.
Bordeaux playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, who scored the opening goal in his side's 2-0 Champions League victory at Bayern Munich on Tuesday, is available again after missing France's last two qualifying matches through injury.
Karim Benzema, on target for Real Madrid in their 1-1 draw at AC Milan on Tuesday, will compete with Andre-Pierre Gignac for the sole striking role in Domenech's customary 4-2-3-1.
|Doyle to join Rapids by month´s end|
|MLS Preview: Red Bulls, City to contest first New York derby|
|Real Salt Lake 0 Los Angeles Galaxy 0: Goalkeepers dominate after lightning delay|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Guarani, Sao Paulo in box seat|
|Subotic wants Europa League spot|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Cabaye challenges leaders PSG|
|Bayern ´threw the game away´ against Barcelona - Boateng|
|Sevilla favourites tag motivation for Fiorentina - Montella|
|Cuadrado needs time - Bacca|
|Guardiola: Bayern didn´t lose because of Messi|
|Luis Enrique hails team performance after Messi masterclass|
|Muller hopeful of second-leg fightback in Munich|
|Ribery set to miss Bayern´s second leg with Barca|
|Messi is impossible to describe, says Mascherano|
|Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0: Messi lives up to Guardiola´s billing to put Barca on brink of final|
|Spanish federation to suspend all competitions from May 16|
|AFC Champions League Review: Jeonbuk cruise into last 16 but Seongnam crash out|
|McClaren reiterates commitment to Derby amid Newcastle speculation|
|League One play-offs preview: Grayson grateful for Preston´s second chance|
|Belfodil agrees Parma contract termination|
|Sevilla still on track - Emery|
|Duff has Upton Park red card overturned|
|Alexis Sanchez can be as good as he wants - Zamorano|
|Torino 0 Empoli 1: Padelli howler proves costly|
|Real Madrid top Forbes list for third straight year|
|Arnesen backs ´champion´ Van Gaal for success at United|
|McCarthy robbed at gunpoint|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Guingamp: Champions out to pile pressure on Lyon|
|Benitez agent to meet with De Laurentiis|
|Chelsea´s ´boring´ style not an issue - Arnesen|
|Ramos laments poor Turin display|
|Southampton to place trust in academy - Reed|
|Bale not listening to failed managers - agent|
|Bigirimana believes relegation could be good for Newcastle|
|Chelsea still hungry for Liverpool win - Matic|
|Bournemouth to invest in players before stadium|
|Police visit Sports Direct over Rangers investigation|
|Guard of honour should spark Liverpool - Lallana|
|Liverpool to sign teenage Portuguese star|
|Thiago would´ve stayed at Barca under Pep|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Tigres advance to quarters|
|Houston Dynamo 0 San Jose Earthquakes 1: Kinnear claims triumphant Texas return|
|Martinez: Everton got carried away during unbeaten run|
|Neymar has flourished with captaincy - Dunga|
|A-League Preview: Victory, City to meet in biggest Melbourne derby|
|Ramos: Real Madrid in box seat|
|´Bale gave Real nothing´ - Keane|
|Hill backs Ramsey for QPR job|
|Ancelotti confident of Real revival|
|Allegri rues late Llorente miss in Juve triumph|
|Juve sent a warning - Pirlo|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2 Dundee United 1: Ofere and Williams keep European dream alive|
|Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Spot-on Tevez earns first-leg lead|
|Sturridge hip surgery a success|
|Coloccini calls for unity as Newcastle target survival|
|Doumbia cleared to make Milan trip|
|Harper calls for Hull unity|
|Guardiola not distracted by Barca homecoming|
|No defence can stop Barca star Messi - Guardiola|
|Neuer ready to face Barca strike trio|
|Napoli v Dnipro: Benitez seeks to make experience count|
|Jones ready for United return|
|Injury rules Oscar out of Brazil´s Copa squad|
|Mazinho proud ahead of Barca v Bayern contest|
|Sevilla v Fiorentina: Kolodziejczak confident ahead of semi-final test|
|Skipper Soriano set for Villarreal return|
|Martinez wary of Pienaar risk|
|AFC Champions League Review: Holders Western Sydney out due to last-gasp Seoul winner|
|Barca focused ahead of Pep return - Luis Enrique|
|Messi has ´no problem´ with Luis Enrique|
|Relegated Tranmere appoint Brabin|
|Ujah agrees Werder transfer|
|Magath backs Guardiola to remain at Bayern|
|Mathieu out of Bayern clash|
|Burnley appeal Duff dismissal|
|Setif drawn in Algeria-heavy Champions League group|
|Terry calls for new Drogba deal|
|Saul agrees bumper Atletico deal|
|Arsenal need to finish season strongly - Wenger|
|New Bilbao deal for Gurpegi|
|Pepe puts Morata friendship aside for Champions League match-up|
|Terry: Too long between titles|
|Hazard can be as good as Messi, Ronaldo - Fabregas|
|Carlisle ´deeply ashamed´ about suicide attempt|
|Tevez planning to win Champions League with Juve|
|Blatter ´knows absolutely nothing´ - Maradona|
|Allegri: Ancelotti a smart man|
|Sunderland academy coach to manage Oldham|
|Primeira Liga Review: Braga secure Europa League berth|
|Bruce backing Hull to respond against Burnley|
|Almeria 2 Celta Vigo 2: Bifouma, Zongo inspire hosts´ comeback|