Martinez in for injured Pique in Spain squad

05 October 2012 04:19

Spain on Friday called up 24-year-old Javi Martinez to stand in for injured defender Gerard Pique in their upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against France and Belarus.

Coach Vicente del Bosque also left Chelsea star forward Juan Mata out of the squad, which includes his club teammate Fernando Torres and Barcelona's David Villa among its strike force.

Pique injured his left foot during Barcelona's 3-2 victory over Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on September 19.

He has not ruled out returning to action in Sunday's league clash against Madrid, but Del Bosque left him out of the national squad for the games against Belarus in Minsk on October 12 and France in Madrid on October 16.

"I don't know whether Pique will play on Sunday, but he has not trained a single day (since his injury) and I didn't think it suitable to call him up," Del Bosque said.

Martinez, 24, joined Bayern Munich this season from Athletic Bilbao for 40 million euros ($50 million) -- the most expensive signing ever in the German league.

He was part of the triumphant Spain squad that won this year's Euro 2012 championship.

Del Bosque noted Martinez's ability to switch from a central defensive role to that of a defensive midfielder.

"With Javi Martinez we have two alternatives," he said. "We will use him where we think most appropriate. I called him up as a defender but that doesn't mean anything."

World Champions Spain will be without another Barcelona defender, Carles Puyol, who is sidelined for eight weeks after dislocating his elbow during his club's 0-2 Champions League victory over Benfica on Tuesday.


Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool/ENG)

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich/GER), Ignacio Monreal (Malaga), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis), Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal/ENG)

Forwards: Pedro (Barcelona), David Villa (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Chelsea/ENG), Roberto Soldado (Valencia), Jesus Navas (Sevilla)

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 14:57