Morata and Iniesta back on Spain’s squad; Costa still out
MADRID (AP) — Andres Iniesta and Alvaro Morata are back in Spain’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia, while Diego Costa remains out because he still can’t play with Atletico Madrid.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui also included Alberto Moreno and Luis Alberto in the 25-man list announced Friday for the home game against Costa Rica on Nov. 11 and at Russia on Nov. 14.
“Part of our preparation is to use this training camp to make some observations and to try to reach conclusions,” Lopetegui said.
Iniesta and Morata had not been able to play in Spain’s World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel because of injuries.
“Iniesta has been practicing normally and he should be fit to play with Barcelona this weekend, so we opted to bring him back to the squad,” Lopetegui said.
The coach said he didn’t even consider calling up Costa because the striker remains unable to play. Costa has been practicing with Atletico but the club can’t register him until January because of a FIFA ban.
“We like him a lot, but he is only training and not competing,” Lopetegui said. “We will take a look at him again beginning in January.”
Other players left out by Lopetegui included Cezar Azpilicueta, Pedro Rodriguez and Nacho Monreal. Dani Carvajal and Koke are recovering from injuries and also were not called up.
Spain qualified for the World Cup by winning Group G ahead of Italy.
“Costa Rica and Russia are strong rivals and we may end up facing them in the World Cup,” Lopetegui said. “But we can’t think too much about long-term goals right now. The goal will be to win these two matches and observe some players who may be with the team later on.”
Spanish players will report to training camp on Tuesday. The game against Costa Rica will be played in Malaga, while the match against Russia will take place in St. Petersburg.
Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Alberto Moreno (Liverpool)
Midfielders: Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Luis Alberto (Lazio), Suso (AC Milan)
Forwards: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Jose Callejon (Napoli), Rodrigo (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Vitolo (Las Palmas)
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni