Keita Balde (R) of AS Monaco and Ellyes Skhiri (L) of Montpellier HSC in action during the French Ligue 1 soccer match between AS Monaco and Montpellier HSC in Montpellier, Southern France, 13 January 2018. EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO
Sunday Feb 18, 2018. 09:00
As the 2018 FIFA World Cup fever begins to intensify, Montpellier midfielder Ellyes Skhiri has committed his future to Tunisia instead of France after talks with the country's football federation.
The 22-year-old represented the North Africans once at U23 level, but then made himself unavailable for selection by citing a desire to establish himself as a first-team regular with Montpellier.
However, latest media reports indicate that the player has confirmed he wants to play for the Carthage Eagles and denied reports he was looking to play for the Les Bleus of France, his country of birth.
"I decided to take my time, but I've made my choice and am now ready to honour international call ups," he said at a Montpellier news conference.
"I'm committed to both my club and country. In the past I put my club before an international career to enable me to establish myself at the club.
"I had already been called by the under-19 team and by the Olympic squad, so Tunisia was always on my mind.
"For the senior team, I have had regular contact with them for one or two years, but I wanted to give myself time to make this important choice. Now I'm ready."
Skhiri began his career with Montpellier progressing from the youth team before making his league debut in March 2015 and has netted four goals in 82 appearances, including 28 games in all competitions this season.