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Spain calls up Costa, drops Villa, Torres

28 February 2014, 17:08

Madrid - Spain coach Vicente del Bosque called up Brazilian-born forward Diego Costa on Friday for next week's friendly against Italy, leaving veteran strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres off the list.

Del Bosque said dropping Villa and Torres for Wednesday's match at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid does not mean they will not make the squad for the World Cup.

"This list is exclusively for the game against Italy," Del Bosque said after announcing his 22 players.

"There are three months left of competition, and many things can happen to convince us to bring other players. We don't close the door to anything."

Costa, a naturalized Spanish citizen, had been called up by Del Bosque for a pair of November friendlies, but injury kept the Atletico Madrid striker sidelined.

He has been at the center of a few ill-tempered encounters with Real Madrid players, soon to be his new teammates on the national side. Del Bosque said he wasn't concerned, adding that the latest run-ins were not as serious as the tension between Barcelona and Madrid players from recent years that didn't stop Spain from winning the World Cup and two European Championships.

"We don't make a big deal of it," the former Madrid manager said. "We know that there are conflicts, but I don't think it is the same case (as Barcelona and Madrid). There was a recent match between Madrid and Atletico and no incidents occurred."

Spain will play Bolivia in a friendly on May 30 in a final warm-up before it faces the Netherlands in its opening World Cup match on June 13.

Besides Diego Costa, Del Bosque will only have Alvaro Negredo and Pedro Rodriguez as traditional forwards with Villa, Spain's all-time leading scorer, and Torres left at home.

Del Bosque summoned the young Bayern Munich pair of Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, while Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta returned for the first time since the Confederations Cup.

Juan Mata and Alvaro Arbeloa were also dropped. Gerard Pique was unavailable due to injury, while Barcelona teammate Carles Puyol was left off as he struggles to return from a series of nagging injuries.

Spain squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli)

Defenders: Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid).


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- AP


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