Soccer-France's Mandanda very doubtful for World Cup

PARIS, May 18 (Reuters) - Steve Mandanda's participation in the World Cup is in doubt after the France second-choice keeper suffered a cracked neck vertebra during his Olympique Marseille team's last Ligue 1 game on Saturday.

Mandanda was hit in the face by Mustapha Yatabare's knee in OM's 1-0 win against En Avant Guingamp.

"Steve Mandanda is suffering from a crack in his first cervical vertebra and from a cervical sprain. It will require wearing a neck brace for three weeks and the same amount of time in physiotherapy," OM doctor Christophe Baudot told the club's website (www.om.net) on Sunday.

The World Cup finals start on June 12 and France, who will also face Ecuador and Switzerland in Group E, start their campaign against Honduras on June 15.

Mandanda, who has 16 caps for France, is number two behind captain Hugo Lloris. Should he pull out, he is likely to be replaced in the squad by St Etienne's Stephane Ruffier, who was named by coach Didier Deschamps in a seven-man stand-by list. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Lovell)