By Gregory Blachier
PARIS (Reuters) - France striker Karim Benzema hit out at those who questioned his work ethic as he tried to play down Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelloti's suggestion that he shies away from hard work.
The 25-year-old has been under pressure to prove his worth as a team player after he was booed off the pitch during last month's La Liga victory over Athletic Bilbao.
Benzema also went on the defence when he was quizzed about his attitude when playing with France as he has not scored an international goal for 16 months.
"What attitude?" he snapped on Wednesday when asked by reporters at France training facility in Clairefontaine, near Paris, about the criticism he has faced.
"Carlo Ancelotti did not say (that I was not working enough). He said that me and Angel Di Maria did not have the same share of defensive work."
After the Bilbao game, Ancelotti suggested Benzema could take a few pointers from the energetic and tenacious Di Maria, who was applauded by the fans.
"One thing was very clear," Ancelotti said at the time. "Benzema was whistled a bit, while Di Maria was applauded by whole stadium. The fans look closely at the players. It's a very clear sign for everyone that hard work is applauded."
On Wednesday Benzema stressed that the criticism had nothing to do with the way he behaves.
"I'm a frontman. Of course I'm the first defender but I won't do the job of a full back or a midfield," he said.
"It's not a question of attitude. You talk about attitude when a player does not want to play football. But I walk on to the pitch, I want to play football.
"For example, when I play for France... I run almost 10 kilometres per game. It's unfair because I do run."
It was not clear on Wednesday whether he would get a chance to run at all when France host Australia in a friendly on Friday at Parc des Princes in Paris.
In last month's Group I World Cup qualifier, Deschamps started Olivier Giroud up front in the 4-2 win over Belarus rather than Benzema.
Benzema has scored 15 goals in 60 international appearances but none since June last year.
"It's been the longest goal drought of my career but I work hard. It won't last for 10 years. I have chances, I just need to convert them," Benzema said.
"I don't demand (to start). I'm happy to be with France. We're a squad, there's no first, second or third choice. The coach chooses. I'm a professional, if I'm called up I play, if I'm benched I support the team."
France host Finland on Tuesday in their last qualifying game. They are tied on 14 points with group leaders Spain, who have a match in hand.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)