Football

Vicente del Bosque names youthful Spain squad

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After a dire World Cup campaign, Vicente Del Bosque has opted for youth in his latest Spain side, making eight changes in a major squad overhaul.

The 63-year old has also named five uncapped players, with Paco Alcacer, Raul Garcia, Ander Iturraspe, Mikel San José and Kiko Casilla all set to make their debuts.

Spain will face France in a friendly match, before beginning their qualifying campaign for the European Champions in 2016 against Macedonia in September.

Youthful changes

The retirement of Xavi Hernandez, David Villa and Xabi Alonso has led to a raft of changes, with Del Bosque building a squad with one eye on the future.

Prolific young striker Paco Alcacer will be given a chance to show his qualities at the highest level, despite making only one U21 appearance for Spain. The 21-year-old hit 14 goals for Valencia’s senior side last term.

Dani Carvajal and Ander Iturraspe have a permanent place in the squad, after making Spain’s provisional 30-man squad, but dropped from the final 23.

Raul Garcia looks set to make is international bow at the age of 28, after a largely successful season with Atletico Madrid.

Neither Isco, nor Marc Bartra are first choice at their respective clubs, but have found their way in Del Bosque’s squad.

Key Absences

There have been some surprising absentees, such as Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique’s omission from the squad. Del Bosque has allayed any fears that the defender is no longer in favour, insisting injury has prevented from him selecting the 28-year-old:

“It’s a complicated list. I guess it needs explaining in some points. We have had contact with Pique recently. We talked and he has not entirely recovered, he still has discomfort from a hip injury.

“He wants to keep coming to the national team but at this time we thought he should not come.”

Out of form striker Fernando Torres has been dropped, along with former Chelsea teammate Juan Mata. Blues striker Diego Costa has found his way into the squad, despite fears over his fitness.

Bayern Munich duo Pepe Reina and Javi Martinez have also been left out, with latter out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has been called up in place of Reina, and has the opportunity to earn his first cap.

"This is a squad for the present, but designed looking toward the future," Del Bosque told reporters. "This is a special list given recent events.

"It comes after our poor showing at the World Cup and we have to look ahead."

Squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Kiko Casilla (Espanyol), David de Gea (Manchester United).

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Raul Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Koke (Atletico Madrid).

Forwards: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Isco (Real Madrid) Paco Alcacer (Valencia), Pedro (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City).

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