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Updated Sunday May 28, 2000
Spain trust in youth for Euro 2000
By Kevin Fylan

MADRID, May 28 (Reuters) - Real Madrid's teenage keeper Iker Casillas and Valencia's 21-year-old midfielder Gerard Lopez were both included in Spain's squad for Euro 2000 on Sunday as coach Jose Antonio Camacho put the accent on current form rather than reputation.

Casillas, who has been outstanding for Real during their successful Champions League campaign, is one of five players from the European Cup winners in Camacho's 22-man squad.

The 19-year-old joins team mates Michel Salgado, Ivan Helguera, Raul Gonzalez and Fernando Hierro, who is likely to captain the side as Spain take their place among the favourites for the finals starting on June 10.

There was no room, however, for Real striker Fernando Morientes, despite his opening goal in last week's 3-0 victory over Valencia in the Champions League final.

Morientes has struggled for his best form for much of this season, managing just 12 Spanish first division goals.

Also left out was the leading marksman in the Spanish league this season, Salva Ballesta, who scored 27 goals for Racing Santander.

Three players from the losing Valencia side were called up, including the highly-rated Gerard. The other two were goalkeeper Santiago Canizares and club captain Gaizka Mendieta.

The third keeper on the list is Atletico Madrid's Jose Francisco Molina, who was on the bench as his side went down 2-1 to Espanyol in the Spanish Cup final on Saturday.

His team mate Juan Carlos Valeron was also named, joining the 12 players who had already been confirmed last week.

Camacho, explaining his decision to include two players in Gerard and Casillas who are untried at this level, said he was looking above all for a balanced squad.

'It was difficult to leave out several players who have been involved with the national team recently,' said the former Real Madrid defender.

'But it was important to choose players who are in form now, regardless of their ages.

'I've tried to include two players for every position, so there shouldn't be any need for improvisation at the last minute.'

Camacho was also delighted to be able to include Hierro, who has struggled all season with a series of knee injuries.

The 32-year-old centre-back has played just 25 minutes of competitive football - including a five-minute run-out at the end of Wednesday's European Cup final - since limping out of a game against Rosenborg Trondheim in March.

'Hierro has recovered completely,' Camacho insisted on Sunday as he welcomed back the stylish defender, who has scored a remarkable 23 goals in his 69 international matches.

The omission of Morientes should mean Athletic Bilbao striker Ismael Urzaiz pairing up with Raul in Camacho's first choice starting line-up when Spain play their group C games against Norway, Slovenia and Yugoslavia.

Canizares is expected to be given the goalkeeping duties, although such has been the rise of Casillas that Camacho could end up opting for the Real teenager, who has hardly put a foot wrong since taking over from Bodo Illgner earlier this season.

The 22 players named on Sunday will meet up on Monday for their final training camp in Valencia.

Spain then have two friendly internationals ahead of the tournament, against Sweden on June 3 and Luxembourg on June 7.

Santiago Canizares (Valencia), Jose Francisco Molina (Atletico Madrid), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Agustin Aranzabal (Real Sociedad), Sergi Barjuan (Barcelona), Paco Jemez (Real Zaragoza), Juan Velasco (Celta Vigo), Abelardo Fernandez (Barcelona), Michel Salgado (Real Madrid), Ivan Helguera (Real Madrid), Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid)
Pep Guardiola (Barcelona), Vicente Engonga (Real Mallorca), Fran Gonzalez (Deportivo Coruna), Gaizka Mendieta (Valencia), Juan Carlos Valeron (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Lopez (Valencia)
Joseba Etxeberria (Athletic Bilbao), Pedro Munitis (Racing Santander), Ismael Urzaiz (Athletic Bilbao), Alfonso Perez (Real Betis), Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid)

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