Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque says he had no choice but to drop Fernando Torres - but has backed the Chelsea man to regain his form for Euro 2012.
Torres was left out of the squad for this week's friendly against Venezuela after scoring just four times in all competitions this season, despite the continued absence of long-time strike partner David Villa through injury.
Fernando Llorente, Iker Muniain, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Torres' club-mate Juan Mata were the attackers selected for the match, and Del Bosque admitted he left Torres out with a heavy heart.
"He is a lad we appreciate a great deal and it pains me to leave him out, but I wanted to be fair,'' he told the Independent. "His performances recently have been a bit irregular.
"It is always a problem when a striker is not finding the net, it makes it difficult for them, we see that there is an issue. But there is a lot of time and plenty of chances for him to find his touch before the Euros.
"We have watched Fernando at his new club and we see that he is fighting and that he is enthusiastic. We hope that in the next four months he can start scoring and we will make a decision on his position in the side based on how he does in that time. Things are not going well, but situations can turn around quickly.''
As reigning World Cup and European champions, Del Bosque's side will inevitably go into this summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine as favourites.
England, by contrast, have expectations tempered by uncertainty over the positions of coach and captain, but Del Bosque insists they are a team to be feared.
"Teams like England and France are strong, powerful nations that need to win,'' he said. "They have the pressure that comes from countries rich in footballing history.
"It is seen as a negative when there are losses but sometimes it can spur you on. Things can come together, we know that ourselves.
"The world knows that England has enormous potential. It manifests with their successful clubs and with their individual talents. It has one of the strongest leagues in the world and they have some of the best players on the planet.''