Latin America

Del Bosque keeps faith with Torres

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Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has kept faith with Chelsea striker Fernando Torres for the Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Czech Republic and Scotland.

Torres did not make the matchday squad for Spain's previous match and his place was under threat from inform Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, who has scored six goals this season.

But Torres was included in the 23-man squad announced by Del Bosque on Friday. The only uncapped player was Valencia defender Jordi Alba.

''It's a squad that's relatively stable, relatively young,'' Del Bosque said. ''Our idea is to give the best account of ourselves. Although we have qualified, Czech Republic and Scotland are fighting for their qualification so we will try to perform as competitively as possible.''

Spain plays at the Czech Republic on Oct. 7 and hosts Scotland on Oct. 12. Spain leads Euro 2012 qualifying Group I with 18 points from six games. Czech Republic is second on 10 points, with Scotland on eight.

Torres has scored two goals in two Premier League appearances after struggling to hit the net since his 50-million-pound ($77.8 million) move to Chelsea.

The 27-year-old forward hasn't scored a competitive goal for Spain in a year, but Del Bosque resisted calls to bring Valencia striker Soldado into the squad.

''There's a lot of competition for all the places,'' Del Bosque said. ''As far as the strikers are concerned, I think we've got all the circumstances covered. We've got a mix of players that complement each other for different types of games.''

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol returns to the squad after injury. The 33-year-old defender hasn't played for the national team since a 4-0 friendly loss to Portugal on Nov. 17 last year.

Del Bosque said Puyol's fitness would be reassessed after the weekend's fixtures. The Barcelona captain picked up a right side injury in the 5-0 win against BATE Borisov in the Champions League and is a doubt for his club's trip to Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

David Silva is also included despite the Manchester City winger despite voicing his frustration at a lack of opportunities in the starting lineup.

The winger claimed he had been made a scapegoat for Spain's 1-0 loss in the opening match against Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup. That defeat proved to be Spain's only loss of the tournament.

''I'm not sure those comments make sense because the World Cup was a long time ago,'' Del Bosque said. ''He's played a lot (for Spain) since the World Cup. There are a lot of players like Fabregas or Cazorla who could make the same complaint. It's difficult to leave players on the bench who are playing extraordinarily well.''

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Valencia).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Javier Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Silva (Mancester City), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Juan Mata (Chelsea).

Forwards: David Villa (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea).

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