Sergio Busquets is to miss Spain’s World Cup qualifier in Finland on Friday with a thigh injury, while Manchester City’s Javi Garcia and Real Madrid’s Nacho Fernandez have received late calls to join the squad from coach Vicente del Bosque.
Busquets picked up the problem late in Barcelona’s 3-2 Primera Division win at Valencia on Sunday night, and underwent tests on his return to Catalonia the following morning.
A club statement released on Monday confirmed that the issue was serious enough to rule Busquets out of the Group I clash in Helsinki, and also La Roja’s friendly against Chile in Geneva the following Tuesday.
"After tests carried out this morning, the club's medical services confirmed the injury Sergio Busquets picked up at La Mestalla to his right thigh, after an accidental clash with Javier Mascherano," the statement said. "The club’s medical services believe that there is a risk of further injury to Busquets and have agreed with the Spanish Federation that he will not travel with Vicente Del Bosque’s squad, but rather stay in Barcelona to begin treatment."
Busquets’ absence gives Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque a headache, as other deep midfield options Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez are all also absent through injury, hence the call-ups for the versatile Garcia and Fernandez.
The inclusion of the uncapped Madrid player was a surprise to many in Spain, but Del Bosque told AS that he had been watching the former Bernabeu youth-teamer closely for a long time now.
"The last times I have seen him play I liked it," said the veteran coach. "He anticipates cleverly, he is quick and he plays it simple, without complicating things from the back. He can also play at centre-back or full-back. Nacho must have something if [Jose] Mourinho promoted him to the first team, and [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Zinedine] Zidane are keeping him there. He has also played internationals through all the age groups."
Garcia and Fernandez are most likely to be on the bench on Friday, with one or both of Atletico Madrid’s inexperienced duo Mario Suarez and Koke starting in midfield.
Spain currently lead Group I, a point ahead of France, with four games left to play.