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Nov 9, 2012

Mata wins Spain recall

Chelsea forward Juan Mata has returned to the Spanish senior squad, with coach Vicente del Bosque also giving first call-ups to Barcelona right-back Martin Montoya and Athletic Bilbao winger Markel Susaeta for next Wednesday's friendly in Panama.

Mata's clubmate Fernando Torres has been 'rested' for the game, along with Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Gerard Pique and Alvaro Arbeloa. Also excluded are Pepe Reina, Nacho Monreal and David Silva, who were all injured with the squad during the last international break, when Spain won in Belarus and drew at home to France in World Cup qualifiers.

Mata's absence from the previous squad had been criticised by some in England, who suggested his performances in the Premier League deserved to be recognised, but Del Bosque said he did not discriminate against players at clubs outside Spain.

"We have three players in Javi Martinez, Santi Cazorla and Mata in this squad," Del Bosque said. "It is not a handicap that they are playing abroad. There is no problem with borders. It has been good for everyone that youngsters travel abroad, for example in the case of Cesc Fabregas."

Del Bosque said new boys Montoya, 21, and Susaeta, 24, deserved their calls to the senior squad, while there were other young players he would include if he had room.

"We would like to take many more players, but novelty for novelty's sake gets you nowhere," he said. "We have a stable squad, with an obligation to bring players through from the Under-21 side, like Montoya, and others like Susaeta for many reasons.

"He is a kid who is playing well, for two or three years he has played many games at a high level. It is good that he comes with us now, while also representing many players who we could not call up."

Sergio Ramos is included in the 19-man list despite the Real Madrid defender admitting recently that he was playing for his club while managing a muscle injury. Del Bosque said there was no agreement with club coaches to rest certain players.

"We have our own responsibilities and we stick to them by bringing the players we think best for this occasion," the former Madrid player and coach said.

The travel involved in bringing the team to Panama and back at a time when players also have heavy work schedules with their clubs has been criticised in Spain, with many accusing the Spanish FA (RFEF) of choosing their opponents for commercial not footballing reasons.

Del Bosque defended the fixture, claiming that the extra travel was not a problem for his players.

"Going to Panama shows a commitment of our country with other Spanish-speaking countries," he said. "We are using this FIFA date to prepare for our next challenges. All international teams play on these dates.

"Furthermore, when we travel to America the players come back having slept well and rested. If you visit another European country you might not get home until 5am."

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Martin Montoya (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis)

Forwards: Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Pedro (Barcelona), Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao), Roberto Soldado (Valencia), David Villa (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Chelsea).

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