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Spain's Lopetegui denies Casillas rumours

By ESPN Staff

Spain coach Aragones gives outcast Albelda hope

MADRID, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis Aragones gave David Albelda a vote of confidence after the Valencia outcast played in Wednesday's 1-0 friendly win over France in Malaga.

The 30-year-old has not appeared for Valencia since mid-December after being told by coach Ronald Koeman he and team mates Santiago Canizares and Miguel Angel Angulo would be sidelined for the rest of the season.

'Albelda gives us an important defensive balance because he is someone who understands the role of a central midfielder, he manages it well, and this allows the wide players to push up more into attack,' Aragones told reporters.

'But he knows if he doesn't play regularly it will be hard for him, although I believe he will find a way to play and fight for a place at Euro 2008 (in June).'

Albelda, capped 51 times, is taking legal action against Valencia to get them to release him from his contract.

'It was a special game for me with everything that has been going on,' he said after playing for the opening 62 minutes on Wednesday.

'I wanted to prove I am still in shape and training well. I am looking to the future with optimism.'

Much of the build up to Wednesday's game was dominated by media reports Aragones would not be leading the side at Euro 2008, something strongly denied by the Spanish Football Federation's sporting director Fernando Hierro.

'I can't say it more clearly. In the federation there are no doubts Luis will be the coach for Euro 2008,' he said.