Morata left out of Spain squad, Diego Costa returns

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MADRID (AP) — Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has left Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata out of the national team squad for friendlies against Germany and Argentina, while Diego Costa was included after returning to action with Atletico Madrid.

Lopetegui said Friday he did not include Morata in his 24-strong squad because he hasn't played much recently, but added that the player still has a chance of making it to the World Cup in Russia.

"Morata has almost always been with us," Lopetegui said. "He had physical problems, was inactive for a while, and we thought it was better to bring other players. He remains in our thoughts and his chances of going to the World Cup remain intact. He will have an extraordinary end to his season ... to make it to the World Cup."

Morata, who is yet to score this year, had been bothered by a back problem.

Costa had not been called up in more than nine months because he couldn't play with Atletico until the team's transfer ban from FIFA ended in January.

"He stopped competing so he stopped being part of the national team," Lopetegui said. "But now he is back, although it doesn't mean he has a spot guaranteed (for the World Cup). They'll all be competing for their spots."

The other forwards in Lopetegui's squad were Rodrigo, Lucas Vazquez and Iago Aspas. Chelsea's Pedro Rodriguez and Victor "Vitolo" Machin were left out.

Spain will play Germany on March 23 in Dusseldorf and Argentina on March 27 in Madrid as part of its World Cup preparations.

New additions to the squad were Valencia midfielder Dani Parejo, Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso and Villarreal midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez.

Sergio Busquets was not included because of a broken finger sustained in Barcelona's match against Chelsea in the Champions League this week.


Spain Squad:

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli).

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad).

Midfielders: Francisco "Isco" Alarcon (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Dani Parejo (Valencia), Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Rodrigo Hernandez (Villarreal), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid).

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