Brazil-born striker Diego Costa has on Friday been included in Spain’s squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Italy.
Costa, 25, raised eyebrows in October by opting to play for Spain rather than Brazil despite having played in two friendlies for the South Americans earlier in 2013.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque called up Costa in November for the friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa but the Atletico Madrid striker had to pull out through injury.
“This is a special case. He (Costa) has not played for us before, he was born in Brazil...He has been picked because of what he has done for his club,” said Del Bosque.
Costa is second in the Spanish Liga scoring charts, just one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
“We believe he can help us to improve,” added Del Bosque. “He is in very good form, but today’s list is just for the Italy match and it does not mean he will necessarily go to the World Cup.” An online poll taken Friday by AS showed 61 per cent of readers in favour of Costa’s call-up.
Also in the squad announced by Del Bosque is Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago, another player who has opted for Spain ahead of Brazil.
Veterans David Villa, Fernando Torres and Alvaro Arbeloa have been dropped by Del Bosque.
“There are three months of the season left, and the World Cup squad is not decided. The players have three months left to perform well for their clubs,” added Del Bosque.
Also left out is veteran Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, who has been plagued by injuries this season.
“Puyol is a reference point for us. He is not discounted for the World Cup at all,” said Del Bosque.
The squad is as follows: Goalkeepers: Vor Valdes (Barcelona), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Reina (Napoli) Defenders: Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli) Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) Forwards: Pedro (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)