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Luis Enrique rings the changes for Spain

Madrid (AFP) – Luis Enrique named a much-changed Spain squad on Friday as Isco, Saul Niguez and Koke were all left out while the 33-year-old Jesus Navas earned a surprise recall.

Eight players were called up who were not in the previous squad, including Navas, Sergi Gomez, Juan Bernat, Fabian Ruiz, Dani Parejo, Sergio Canales, Iker Muniain and Jaime Mata. 

Among those to miss out were Isco, who will be hoping for more games under new Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, as well as Atletico Madrid pair Saul and Koke.

“It’s not a revolution, it’s evolution,” Luis Enrique said. “It’s going to depend on them.”   

Spain play two qualifiers for the European Championships later this month. They are at home to Norway on March 23 before facing Malta away on March 26. 

Luis Enrique will be looking for a response after Spain endured a disappointing end to their Nations League campaign at the end of last year, when losses to England and Croatia saw them miss out on the semi-finals.

“We expected to make the final four but we have to improve our balance between attacking and defending,” Luis Enrique said. “You have to attack in a better way so that you can defend better too.” 

Navas has not appeared for the national team since October 2013 but the former Manchester City winger has been in excellent form for Sevilla this season. 

“He knows what it means to play at the highest level, he has won the most important titles and he has been very good throughout the season,” Luis Enrique said.

Alvaro Morata was also included following his strong start at Atletico and was joined by fellow forwards Marco Asensio, Rodrigo, Muniain and Mata. Diego Costa and Iago Aspas are both injured.


Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United/ENG), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea/ENG), Pau Lopez (Real Betis)

Defenders: Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Juan Bernat (Paris Saint-Germain)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli/ITA), Dani Parejo (Valencia)

Forwards: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Rodrigo (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Jaime Mata (Getafe)

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