Negredo, Navas left out by Del Bosque

The Man City duo miss out but Diego Costa and Juan Mata are included in Spain's reduced 23-man World Cup squad.

    Negredo found himself starting from the Man City bench over the close of the season [Getty Images]
    Negredo found himself starting from the Man City bench over the close of the season [Getty Images]

    World Cup holders Spain included Diego Costa in their 23-man squad for Brazil despite lingering worries over a leg injury to the striker.

    Costa has been hobbling for weeks with a right thigh muscle problem, but coach Vicente del Bosque is prepared to gamble that the Atletico Madrid forward will be fit to lead the defending champion's attack.

    Costa, who is a Brazilian-born Spanish national, is expected to start ahead of Fernando Torres and David Villa, who were also in the squad.

    As expected, winger Jesus Navas was left out while Juan Mata was included despite a mixed Premier League season.

    Sixteen of the 23 squad players who lifted the World Cup four years ago return for Spain.

    Del Bosque seemed to choose players like Mata and Torres on favour rather than obvious merit heading into Brazil, with Real Madrid playmaker Isco among those discarded.

    Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara was unavailable due to injury.

    Del Bosque stuck by Costa despite the availability of Juventus striker Fernando Llorente and Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo.

    Negredo found himself starting from the bench over the close of the club season but Llorente enjoyed a strong debut season at Juventus with 16 goals.

    Del Bosque said after Spain's 2-0 friendly win over Bolivia that he has faith in Torres, who scored just five Premier League goals this season.

    Captain Iker Casillas will start in goal ahead of Pepe Reina and David De Gea, while versatile player Javi Martinez can step in for either Sergio Ramos or Gerard Pique at centre back if needed.

    Cesar Azpilicueta's strong performance against Bolivia should cement the Chelsea back's spot on the right side of the starting 11 with Jordi Alba on the left.

    Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso provide cover in midfield behind Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, David Silva and Santi Cazorla, while Koke could enjoy playing time too after a standout season that saw the Atletico playmaker help lead his team to the Champions League final.

    Spain are looking to win an unprecedented four straight major championships after also having won the 2008 and '12 European Championships.

    Spain open against the Netherlands on June 13 in a repeat of the 2010 final, while the world champions will also play Chile and Australia in Group B.
    ___

    Spain's 23-man squad:

    Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de
    Gea (Manchester United)

    Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard
    Pique (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Jordi
    Alba (Barcelona), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid)

    Midfielders: Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xabi
    Alonso (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona),
    David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico
    Madrid), Juan Mata (Manchester United)

    Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), David
    Villa (Atletico Madrid), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)

    SOURCE: AP


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