Pedro on Spain: Not worth me turning up just to be part of group
Spain winger Pedro claimed that being asked to sit on the bench at Euro 2016 is "not worth" his time, and he did not back down on his comments during a news conference on Monday.
The 28-year-old has played less than 10 minutes so far in the tournament, coming on during the late stages of La Roja's 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque has showed a preference for the likes of Nolito and David Silva on the flanks -- something which has upset the Chelsea forward.
Pedro made his initial comments earlier Monday in an interview with Movistar, quoted in Marca.
Later, at Monday's news conference ahead of Spain's Euro 2016 match against Croatia, Pedro reiterated his frustration.
"I am not sorry no, I have spoken with [Del Bosque]," he said. "I am not apologising, I would say the same again. There are many players who can come with the national team. I am happy to be here and form part of this great team, for six years now. It is nothing against the coach, not a bomb or anything like that. I accept the situation -- and if I need to rectify and apologise to fans if they were offended.
"But I do not understand how it has set all this off. I am happy to be on of the 23 here with Vicente -- I have achieved everything with the team and him. I just wanted to clarify it.
"I have my expectations and want to play, the same with all the 23. We all want to play, have that ambition. I prefer to be on the pitch than to play little. But I am very happy to be here and I'll keep working and fighting to help the group and have my opportunities. I just wanted to explain my situation. It is very difficult when you have been playing a lot, but this is one of the best teams in the world. If I have to speak to anyone, the captains in the dressing-room, I will."
The Chelsea forward, who joined the Blues from Barcelona last summer, is one of the most experienced players in the Spain squad, having won 58 caps and scored 17 goals since making his debut in May 2010.
"It is difficult for me to play this role [as a substitute], and if there is no continuity it is not worth me turning up just to be part of the group," he said.
Gerard Pique, meanwhile, came to Pedro's defence, and blamed the media for creating a firestorm.
"Pedro just said he wanted to play more, nothing else, maybe you [media] are all bored and make it a big story, but it's not really," he said.
Also on Monday, Del Bosque said he was not surprised by Pedro's comments.
"We have spoken and he said he did not want to start with anyone. He said something without meaning to, and now he is sorry he said it. He just made public a reality -- that the other 12 who are here want to play, nothing else," Del Bosque said. "We always try and get on well with everyone, so that everyone is happy. But it is inevitable that in some moments the 12 who do not play are not happy. There is no need for this to go any further."
Asked whether he felt Pedro was unfair to act this way after being called up despite a poor season with Chelsea, Del Bosque said no.
"He told me he did not want to get into anyone, but said it in a moment in which he was angry about not playing. He has always behaved well during his 50-plus games with us. He was a bit worried about all the news that came out, when anything negative comes out it gets blown up, but it should not go around much more."
Stoke City striker Joselu sent his own message to Pedro via Twitter, saying: "Don't worry, there's many of us who would take your role happily and with no problem."
No te preocupes que muchos desempeñariamos tu papel sin problema y felices!! ���������� https://t.co/HaLeP7tQyg- Joselu Mato (@JoseluMato9) June 20, 2016
Pedro later commented: "Vicente makes the choices, picks the squad. I am very happy to be here, in this 23. In no moment have I said I did not want to be here, that I wanted to go, or that I was uncomfortable here. That part was forgotten from the interview. I am relaxed in this sense, and nothing else."
Information from Press Association was used in this report.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan