Olivier Giroud says he is ready to step up and help fill the big void in the absence of “leader” Paul Pogba for the France national team.
Ex-Manchester United star Pogba helped France lift the World Cup in Russia in 2018 with some outstanding displays and speeches.
But the Juventus midfielder has been ruled out of Qatar 2022 with a knee injury along with N’Golo Kanté and Christopher Nkunku.
Ahead of Giroud’s sixth major tournament, the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker said: “Paul Pogba will be sorely missed through the World Cup but it is not just him, I am thinking of N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku too.
“We are thinking of them and will hopefully make them proud. Paul takes a lot of space in the team with his personality and charisma but there are other leaders who will emerge.
“I have my role as a big brother for the younger players to be available to them and to speak when it is needed and to motivate the team and keep them together.”
Giroud has been in sparkling form for AC Milan this campaign after scoring nine goals in 19 appearances ahead of Tuesday’s opener against Australia in Group D. He now needs just two goals to equal Thierry Henry’s international record of 51 for France.
He added: “I treat it like a young player because I want to enjoy every single moment. I have this target and bonus in my head to beat Thierry but the main goal of the team is to go as far as we can in the competition.
“Hopefully we can bring the Cup home. To get another would be amazing. I am still hungry. I feel physically good and am very happy with my team and my club.
“To be 36 and to still be able to feel good and play like this is a gift and I hope to be able to continue like this. Maybe it could be my last competition but I am not announcing anything.
“We will see after the World Cup. As long as my body will allow it, I won’t fix any limits. With my age I know I am closer to the end of my career than the beginning but I am still very motivated.”