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Luis Enrique leaves out Koke, Alba and Aspas in 1st call-up

August 31, 2018

MADRID (AP) — Luis Enrique had some surprises in naming his first squad as Spain’s coach on Friday, leaving out regulars such as Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion, Jordi Alba and Iago Aspas.

Enrique called up 24 players for the team’s matches against England and Croatia in the Nations League.

“I’m not trying to revolutionize, only to improve,” Enrique said. “We shouldn’t make comparisons to the previous squad. We are not inferior to any other national team, but we still have things to improve.”

The former Barcelona coach included 13 players from the World Cup squad, including David De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Diego Costa. Among those returning to the team after missing the World Cup are Alvaro Morata and Sergi Roberto.

Enrique did not talk about the players he left out and said “more surprises” were expected in the future.

“Today is a special day for the players who made it to the team,” he said. “There were a lot of reasons for me to include them.”

Koke, Alba and Aspas all had played in Russia.

Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and David Silva had already announced their retirement from the national team following Spain’s elimination against host Russia in the round of 16. They were among the few remaining members of Spain’s golden generation which dominated soccer in the last decade.

“The style will remain the same in terms of ball possession and controlling the game, but there will be nuances,” Enrique said. “I have players for a very balanced team.”

Interim coach Fernando Hierro was in charge of Spain’s World Cup squad because Julen Lopetegui was fired two days before the tournament for accepting a job with Real Madrid without telling Spanish federation officials.

The coach included defender Diego Lllorente in the squad even though he will not be able to play following surgery on a broken left leg. Enrique said the 25-year-old central defender has a “great future” ahead of him and wanted him to get used to the national team.

Spain plays at England on Sept. 8 and hosts Croatia three days later.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Real Betis)

Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Rodri (Atletico Madrid), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid)

Forwards: Francisco “Isco” Alarcon (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Suso (AC Milan), Rodrigo (Valencia)

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