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Respite for Spain as Llorente returns, players vaccinated

Madrid (AFP) – Spain’s disrupted Euro 2020 preparations were given a double boost on Friday as defender Diego Llorente returned to the squad and all the players were vaccinated against Covid-19.

The vaccinations came on the first day of Euro 2020 and three days before the team’s opening game, with the possibility now that some players feel side-effects ahead of their first fixture against Sweden on Monday night.

But Llorente has been allowed to rejoin the squad after giving a fourth consecutive negative test and the squad will train together again on Saturday, after three days without anyone testing positive.

On his return to the Spanish training base at Las Rozas, Llorente was greeted by his applauding teammates and his coach Luis Enrique.

He tested positive on Tuesday, after Sergio Busquets had already tested positive on Sunday.

Both players were made to self-isolate at home while the squad’s preparation plans were thrown into disarray.

Spain had to field an under-21 team in their last warm-up match against Lithuania on Tuesday and the senior players have had to train individually this week.

Six new players were called up to form a back-up training bubble, along with 11 under-21 players.

The vaccinations were carried out on Friday by the Spanish army, who arrived at Las Rozas in the north-west of Madrid, after the government finally gave its approval.

“The players summoned for Euro 2020 have received or completed their vaccination against Covid-19 on Friday,” a statement from the federation said.

In a press conference, midfielder Thiago Alcantara said: “It went well and we have a match in three days so let’s hope the next bit of good news is there are no side-effects for the match.”

The RFEF’s initial request for the players to be vaccinated when the squad was announced last month was denied and there have been tense negotiations between the federation and government over the past week.

“It would be very annoying not to be able to pick a player who had symptoms from the vaccine,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said on Thursday. 

Asked what has been the hardest part of a difficult week, Thiago said: “The uncertainty. But we have been in this for a year and a half, we’re used to this kind of situation. We have to take what’s thrown at us. What’s annoying is not being able to have a normal routine of doing things together.”

The federation confirmed different vaccines were used depending on the situation of each player, with some having already received a first dose with their clubs.

After Sweden, Spain play Poland on June 19 and Slovakia on June 23.

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