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May 15, 2012

Six new faces in initial Spain squad

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is one of six new faces in Spain's 21-man squad for pre-Euro 2012 friendlies against Serbia and South Korea later this month.

De Gea, 21, is joined by Atletico Madrid pair Juanfran and Adrian Lopez, Benfica midfielder Javi Garcia, Real Betis' Benat Etxebarria and highly-rated Malaga youngster Isco as previously uncapped members of Vicente del Bosque's squad, which does not include players from Copa del Rey finalists Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, or Champions League finalists Chelsea.

With the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Juan Mata not selected, there is an opportunity for the new faces to try to stake a claim for a place in the defending champions' squad for the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

Adrian and De Gea were both part of Spain's triumphant European Under-21 Championship side last summer, with the former finishing as the tournament's top scorer, while Isco has enjoyed a successful debut campaign with Malaga - helping the club reach the Champions League for the first time in their history.

The two other newcomers are 25-year-old Benat, who caught the eye with a match-winning brace in Betis' derby victory over Sevilla earlier this month, and Javi Garcia, a mainstay in the Benfica team that reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Del Bosque lamented the lack of preparation time afforded to many of his players ahead of the tournament, but believes it is a great opportunity for those that are new to the squad to make an impression.

He told Marca: "Isco and Benat are two prospects for the national team. They are with us and Isco in particular has had a great season at Malaga.

"Almost every Monday I also watch the players playing abroad and those that play well will be rewarded. This is the case with Javi Garcia.

"Our concern right now is to choose the best. Obviously we have the worry that there could be a step back in the emotion of the players. We want to arrive in the best condition possible. We are not going to have a pre-season towards the European Championships but a prolongation of the season just finished. We hope to have a good competition.''

Del Bosque also recognised that the scheduling of the Copa del Rey final for the night before the first friendly against Serbia was not ideal, but something the world and European champions will just have to cope with.

"Our obligation is to adapt to the circumstances and arrive in the best conditions for the Championships. I don't think it is important for me personally to be at the Copa del Rey final because by whatever means we, as a coaching team, will be present.''

Del Bosque touched on the latest developments in David Villa's race to be fit in time for the naming of the official squad. The Barcelona forward has been out since breaking his fibula in December and is not expected to play any part in the final against Athletic.

"He is recovering from his injury and clearly he could come to Poland and Ukraine. We will know further down the line. We take the final decision on the 27th and on this day we will take the final decision on David Villa.''

Spain squad to face Serbia and South Korea:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), David De Gea (Man United)

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Monreal (Malaga), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Dominguez (Atletico Madrid);

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis), Isco (Malaga), Javi Garcia (Benfica), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal) David Silva (Man City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla)

Forwards: Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (Valencia); Adrian Lopez (Atletico Madrid).

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