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Aug 10, 2012

Monreal recalled to Spain squad

Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal is the only new name in Spain coach Vicente del Bosque's 19-man squad for the Euro 2012 winners' friendly in Puerto Rico on August 15.

Monreal gets the call as Barcelona's new signing Jordi Alba - along with Chelsea's Juan Mata and Athletic's Javi Martinez - has been given time to rest after also representing the country at the London Olympics. Barca's Xavi Hernandez has also been excused the trip.

"I spoke with Xavi yesterday," Del Bosque said at Friday's squad announcement. "In any case that we can help things work, above all for our most important players, we will help.

"For him to prepare well we decided not to take him. In another similar case we would also make a decision. We all agree that Xavi is very important, even more than the coach."

In a minor surprise, Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo is dropped while Athletic's Fernando Llorente travels despite playing zero minutes during June's tournament.

"The Negredo decision is because we would be bringing three forwards for just one game," Del Bosque explained. "It would have been a lot for them all to travel and then not play. We decided two was enough."

Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, 33, who missed Euro 2012 with a knee injury, has not been recalled despite having returned to fitness. Del Bosque said nobody should read anything into that decision and that he remained available for the national team.

"I spoke with him," the former Real Madrid boss said. "Firstly to find out how he was. He has played 45 minutes in two games. We thought it better not to include him yet. It is a special case and we prefer for him to keep going with his recovery at his club before he comes to the national side."

The majority of the squad fly from Madrid to Puerto Rico next Monday morning, with the Real Madrid contingent joining them directly from their pre-season US tour. The players will fly back to Spain soon after the game, arriving home early Thursday morning.

Some - including Andres Iniesta - have criticised the travel involved a few days before La Liga kicks off, but Del Bosque said the dates were out of his control and preparation friendlies were important.

"These games are useful for everyone," he said. "The dates are possibly bad, but we know that whenever la Seleccion play almost always it seems like the dates are bad. The reality is we stick to the international calendar. We have Puerto Rico, then Saudi Arabia (in a friendly on September 7) then the important qualifiers against Georgia, Belarus and France. These two or three first games are key for the rest of the group, which is difficult. You can say we are champions but each day things become more difficult."

Spain squad: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona); Alvaro Arbeloa, Raul Albiol (both Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Nacho Monreal (Malaga); Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets (both Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona); Jesus Navas (Sevilla); Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), David Silva (Manchester City), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona).

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