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May 23, 2013

Spain pick strong squad for U-21 Euros

Senior internationals David De Gea, Thiago Alcantara, Isco and Iker Muniain have all been named in a full strength Spain squad for June's European Under-21 Championship in Israel.

Coach Julen Lopetegui announced the squad on Thursday morning and it contained just two minor surprises in Real Madrid attacker Alvaro Morata and Zaragoza centre-back Alvaro Gonzalez, who have both yet to appear for the Under-21s.

Lopetegui's side are among the favourites for the tournament, as he can also call upon the likes of Real Sociedad duo Inigo Martinez and Asier Illarramendi, Benfica forward Rodrigo, Valencia schemer Sergio Canales, Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, Barcelona defenders Martin Montoya and Marc Muniesa and Bayer Leverkusen right-back Dani Carvajal.

Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles has also been included, while Rayo Vallecano defender Jordi Amat can perhaps feel the most disappointed to have been left out.

In contrast, the Germany squad named last week did not include eligible senior capped players such as Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler and Ilkay Gundogan, while England boss Stuart Pearce declined to include eligible players including Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell.

Lopetegui's main concern at this point is a tight schedule which sees many of his key men involved in La Liga action until June 1, then travelling to Israel just two days later. La Rojita begin their campaign against Russia on June 6, then play Germany on June 9 and Netherlands on June 12.

The former Madrid and Barcelona goalkeeper said that finding a balance was usually tricky in Spain.

"The federation has always been sensitive to these cases," he told AS. "We will do everything possible to favour the clubs and to favour ourselves. We must weigh it up."

Only five squad members [De Gea, Thiago, Montoya, Muniain and Villarreal keeper Diego Marino] remain from the Spain Under-21 squad that won the trophy two years ago in Denmar.

Three of that winning side - Javi Martinez, Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta - are likely to travel with Spain to Brazil for the Confederations Cup next month.

Spain are also among the favourites for this summer's Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, where their squad is likely to include starlets including Barcelona's Gerard Deulofeu and Real Madrid's Jese.

Spain squad for European Under-21 Championship in Israel:

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Diego Marino (Villarreal), Joel Robles (Wigan).

Defenders: Martin Montoya (Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Bayer Leverkusen), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Marc Muniesa (FC Barcelona), Marc Bartra (FC Barcelona), Alvaro Gonzalez (Zaragoza), Inigo Martínez (Real Sociedad), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Thiago Alcantara (F.C. Barcelona), Isco Alarcon (Malaga), Pablo Sarabia (Getafe) Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), Ignacio Camacho (Malaga), Koke (Atletico de Madrid), Sergio Canales (Valencia).

Forwards: Iker Muniain (Athletic), Cristian Tello (FC Barcelona), Rodrigo Moreno (Benfica), Alvaro Vazquez (Getafe), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid).

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