Michu, Torres left out of Spain squad
There is no place for Swansea's in-form attacker Michu or Chelsea striker Fernando Torres in the Spain squad for next Tuesday's friendly against Uruguay in Qatar, but Blues right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has been given a first senior call-up by La Roja coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Malaga starlet Isco and new €10 million Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal have also been included in the 21-man squad, but Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez and Atletico Madrid's Juanfran Torres are left out.
The Euro 2012-winning coach told reporters as he announced the squad that, due to all the talent he had available, there just was not room to include the Swansea player, or others who were knocking on the door like Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas.
"Not calling up someone who deserves it can leave a bad taste in the mouth, but there is a lot of competition for that position of 'mediapunta', we have many players there," Del Bosque said. "We recognise his value and his goals in the Premier League but we cannot find a space for him. It is the same with Iago Aspas. We do not want to take a place away from others who have given so much to the national team all this time."
David Villa, currently on the Barcelona bench, makes the squad along with Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo, with Del Bosque saying "there was no need" for the much criticised Torres to make this particular trip.
"[Torres] is one of our most-capped players, but at this moment we think he does not need to come," he said. "Even though David is not playing regularly, in this case we believed he should come with us."
The inclusion of Azpilicueta, 23, looks like a result of Juanfran's error which lead to France's equaliser in November's 1-1 World Cup qualifier, but Del Bosque preferred to talk up the former Osasuna and Marseille player's attributes.
"Azpilicueta is playing every game for Chelsea," he said. "He is showing what he has done already for the Under-21s. He is a kid who joins the attack and who defends well. We want to see him."
Del Bosque said the inclusion of Isco, 20, showed how the make-up of the Spanish squad continued to evolve, but he would not experiment too much against Uruguay as crucial World Cup qualifiers at home to Finland and in Paris against France were on the horizon.
"With the kids coming through we are very relaxed about the future, although the squad at the moment is still at a very good age," he said. "I know this is a friendly and we could have made more experiments but we view the game as preparation, because in March we have very tough games. Uruguay are South American champions, were fourth in the last World Cup and are fighting to qualify for the next one. They will be a good rival for us."
Jesus Navas, Raul Albiol and Benat Etxebarria have also been excluded, while Roberto Soldado was not considered due to recent injury issues. With Iker Casillas absent through injury Carles Puyol, who returns to the squad after a year's absence, could captain this side in what would be his 100th cap.
The RFEF [Spanish FA] are reportedly receiving a €3 million appearance fee for their two days in Qatar, with the money to be shared with the Spanish players union [AFE].
FIFA have granted special dispensation for the game to go ahead on the same day as Qatar's World Cup qualifier against Malaysia, as rules state that friendly games cannot take place on same day in same country as a competitive game. Both matches are scheduled to take place, one after the other, in Doha's Khalifa International Stadium.
Goalkeepers: Jose Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona)
Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Isco (Malaga), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), David Villa (Barcelona).