Julen Lopetegui insists Iker Casillas and Cesc Fabregas remain “in our thoughts” but “felt it was best” to omit them from his first Spain squad.
Casillas and Fabregas were the two biggest casualties in Lopetegui’s squad for upcoming games against Belgium and Lichtenstein, and the new boss cited a preference to establish David de Gea as his No 1 without the Porto veteran looming over him and a lack of early-season appearances from the Chelsea midfielder as reasons for their no-shows.
“[Casillas] is a special player and a national reference, but our starting goalkeeper is De Gea and I decided that he wouldn’t be with us at this time,” he explained at a Press conference.
“I understand the fuss it’s caused, but I had a frank conversation with him because I understood that I had to.
“I was talking to a player who is also a friend of mine. Iker can still [return to the Spain squad], but I just felt it was best to make another decision for my first squad.
“I want to have a broad view of the players to see what they can all give us. I want to have different options.
“The only interest is the good of Spanish football and the national team.
“[On Diego Costa], all the players have been seen live. He’s in our thoughts and it’s a good thing [that he’s here]. He fits into our system.
“Vicente [del Bosque] and I are neighbours and friends. We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks.
“It’s the first time in a long time that [Cesc] isn’t here. He’s still in our thoughts but played little [in Chelsea’s opening three games].
“[Isco] suffered a knock to his ankle and therefore couldn’t be called up. I won’t say who’s been called up in his place.
“[Marco Asensio] has quality, maturity and is a player who excites us. He has a big future and present.”