Mata returns for Costa-less Spain

04 October 2013 11:17

Spain manager Vicente del Bosque reiterated his intention to call up Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa as he named a 23-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia later this month.

A statement from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said on Thursday that the Atletico Madrid man couldn't be called upon just now as there was still some paperwork pending to switch his allegiance from Brazil to Spain.

Costa has played twice for Brazil, but just in friendly matches, meaning he is able to play for the world champions, for whom he qualifies on residency grounds.

And the 24-year-old has flourished this season with eight goals in seven league games making him La Liga's joint top goalscorer alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

"The federation took the necessary steps but there was a delay with FIFA. If anyone is at fault it is us for not having foreseen it before," Del Bosque told a press conference on Friday.

"I spoke with Diego and it was a pleasant conversation, he is a good kid, not like the aggressive player you see on the pitch.

"No one can choose where they are born. He complies with the obligations to play with the national team.

"If he deserves it, then I hope we can have him with us. There is no closed limit on the players we use. All of them, without exception, are well received."

Chelsea's Juan Mata is recalled after missing the qualifier against Finland last month due to his lack of match practice, but club colleagues Cesar Azpilicueta and Fernando Torres once again miss out.

Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno has been called up to the senior side for the first time in the absence of the injured Jordi Alba of Barcelona.

And Atletico Madrid right-back Juanfran also returns and is joined by club teammates Koke and Mario Suarez.

Spain need just four points from their last two qualifiers in Group I to guarantee their place in next year's finals.

Spain squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus in Palma on October 11 and Georgia in Albacete on October 15:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA)

Defenders: Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli/ITA), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas (all Barcelona), Koke, Mario Suarez (both Atletico Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, David Silva (all Manchester City/ENG), Juan Mata (Chelsea/ENG)

Source: AFP