Former France and Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit said coach Raymond Domenech made a mistake by omitting the experienced Patrick Vieira in his provisional list for the World Cup.
Petit, a member of the France team that won the World Cup in 1998, said his former Arsenal teammate couldn't reasonably have hoped for a starting spot in Domenech's team but that he will be deeply missed in the locker room.
Speaking on French TV late Tuesday, Petit said that Vieira is "essential to the life of the team."
The 33-year-old Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000, said his international career was over after 107 appearances with France.
"He couldn't deserve a starting spot, but he is essential to the life of the team," Petit told L'Equipe TV channel. "In hard times, when there are tensions and when players are experiencing problems to live together, he can be very helpful."
Petit won a league and cup double with Arsenal in 1998, marshalling the midfield along with Vieira, who struggled with injuries in recent seasons.
The Senegal-born Vieira returned to the Premier League with Manchester City from Inter Milan in January in a bid to regain his spot but failed to convince Domenech after playing only 14 games. Vieira played his last game for France in June last year, a disappointing 1-0 loss at home against Nigeria.
Vieira, who stuck by Domenech after the Euro 2008 debacle — where France was eliminated in the group stage — said he accepted the coach's decision but criticized his poor communication.
"I didn't speak with him on the phone in the past six months," Vieira said. "We always had a good relationship, even when he was living through hard times. In the view of my career, I would have loved more consideration."