Veteran Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz was on Friday handed his first Spain call-up in five and a half years after being named in the squad for the international friendlies against Italy and Romania.
Aduriz, whose only international cap came against Lithuania in October 2010, has been rewarded for his prolific form for Athletic this season.
He started the campaign with a hat-trick in a 4-0 Spanish Super Cup rout of Barcelona and has not looked back, netting 31 goals in 44 games in all competitions.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said of the 35-year-old: “Aduriz deserves to be here. He has scored a lot of goals and he is a player we all like.”
Chelsea’s Diego Costa misses out with Del Bosque suggesting it was on fitness grounds, rather than the disciplinary issues that followed his appearance for Guus Hiddink’s men at Everton at the weekend.
Costa was sent-off late on in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat but cleared of making an inflammatory gesture to the home fans as he left the pitch at half-time.
Del Bosque said: “If Diego Costa was 100 per cent fit he would have been picked. The situation the other day was not so serious – and we are not here to punish.”
Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has also been left out with his club team-mate Sergi Roberto included.
“I spoke personally with Andres. He has a bit of a muscle problem, so we thought it better for him not to come,” said Del Bosque. “Sergi Roberto has played everywhere and is capable of playing different positions. But we see him as a midfielder.”
European champions Spain continue their preparations for Euro 2016 by taking on Italy in Udine on March 24. They then travel to face Romania in Cluj three days later.
Spain squad to face Italy and Romania:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David De Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla).
Defenders: Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Mario Gaspar (Villarreal), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Nacho (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Isco (Real Madrid), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Pedro (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City).
Forwards: Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Paco Alcacer (Valencia).
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