Villa back in Spain squad for WCup qualifier

Barcelona striker David Villa will return to Spain’s squad for a

World Cup qualifier after missing the European Championship because

of injury.

Villa is among 23 players named for the defending champion’s

first Group I qualifier at Georgia on Sept. 11, plus a friendly

match against Saudi Arabia in Pontevedra next Friday.

Villa’s last appearance for the European champions was nearly 10

months ago in Costa Rica before he fractured his right leg in

December, forcing him to miss the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland

and Ukraine.

”Normally Villa shouldn’t have come as he hasn’t really played

much but we think it will give him an extra lift,” coach Vicente

del Bosque was quoted as saying by Spanish media. ”All of the

information we have suggests he’s in good shape, he’s our country’s

top scorer and whether he plays or not we think it was opportune

that he come.”

The 30-year-old Villa enters in place of Athletic Bilbao striker

Fernando Llorente, who has been sidelined by his club since the

start of the season because of contract squabbles. Javi Martinez,

who transferred to Bayern Munich from Athletic, was also left out

for the same reason.

”I spoke with (Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes) and he was worried

about the irregular preseason he had,” Del Bosque said. ”It’s a

bad signal that players from Athletic haven’t got a presence but

Javi, until a few days ago, and Llorente have been going through an

uncomfortable situation.”

Del Bosque said he left Juan Mata out of the squad after the

Chelsea playmaker competed at both the European Championship and

Olympics, as did Martinez.

Andres Iniesta, winner of UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award,

leads a relatively unchanged squad from the one at Euro 2012, with

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres set to make his 100th international

appearance.

Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso are among five Real

Madrid players in the team, while there are seven from Barcelona.

Xavi Hernandez returns after skipping August’s 2-1 friendly win at

Puerto Rico.

Valencia striker Roberto Soldado makes the team after missing

the cut for Euro 2012, as do Malaga back Ignacio Monreal and Real

Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria.

France, Belarus and Finland are also in Spain’s qualifying group

for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina

(Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid),

Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Ignacio Monreal (Malaga), Gerard

Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Juanfran Torres

(Atletico Madrid).

Midfielders: Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis), Xabi Alonso (Real

Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc

Fabregas (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez

(Barcelona).

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester

City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (Valencia), Fernando

Torres (Chelsea), David Villa (Barcelona).