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By ESPN Staff

Spain call Fabregas, Senna, drop Del Horno

MADRID, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Arsenal youngster Francesc Fabregas and Villarreal's Brazilian-born midfielder Marcos Senna were given their first call-ups for Spain in the 22-strong squad for next week's friendly against Ivory Coast.

The 18-year-old Fabregas, who has stepped into Patrick Vieira's shoes at Highbury is being groomed as the replacement for Barcelona playmaker Xavi whose presence at the World Cup is in jeopardy because of a serious knee ligament injury.

'Although Cesc is young after a year and a half in the Arsenal first team he has emerged as a very important player for his club and he has also performed well for the under-21s,' Aragones told a news conference.

'He's probably the player who closest resembles Xavi in terms of being able to hold on to the ball and he's also got an eye for goal.

Senna, who has dual Spanish nationality, has been in fine form for Villarreal in the last two seasons, helping his side to a third-place finish in the Primera Liga last term and to a place in the last 16 of the Champions League in their first appearance in the competition.

'I've spoken to Senna and he has made it clear that he wants to play for Spain and feels Spanish,' said Aragones.

'He brings us some important strengths such as his hard work and ability to organise the midfield and he's got a good shot on him too.'

Deportivo Coruna left back Joan Capdevila and Real Madrid midfielder Guti were recalled by coach Luis Aragones, but Chelsea defender Asier del Horno, sent off on Wednesday in the Champions League against Barcelona, was dropped.

Captain and leading scorer Raul was also left out as he has not yet played a full match for Real Madrid since returning from a three-month injury lay-off because of a knee injury.

Apart from the two new recruits, Aragones has retained the core of the squad that earned Spain a place at the World Cup after a playoff victory against Slovakia.

Liverpool, Real Madrid and Valencia contribute four players each to the squad, although defender Carles Puyol is the only representative from league leaders Barcelona.

Spain will host the African Nations Cup runners-up and fellow World Cup qualifiers Ivory Coast in Valladolid on Wednesday.

They are also scheduled to play Russia, African Nations Cup champions Egypt and either Croatia or Slovenia as part of their preparations for the World Cup in Germany where they have been draw alongside Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in Group H.


Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Pablo Ibanez (Atletico Madrid), Juanito (Real Betis), Michel Salgado (Real Madrid), Joan Capdevilla (Deportivo Coruna), Antonio Lopez (Atletico Madrid),

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), Luis Garcia (Liverpool), David Albelda (Valencia), Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Ruben Baraja (Valencia), Guti (Real Madrid), Joaquin (Real Betis)

Forwards: Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Valencia), Jose Antonio Reyes (Arsenal), Fernando Morientes (Liverpool)