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EURO 2024 qualifiers

Barca teen Yamal, Villarreal’s Baena called into Spain squad

Spain men’s coach Luis de la Fuente selected Barcelona forward Lamine Yamal on Friday in his squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Cyprus.

The 16-year-old could become Spain’s youngest ever player if he features in either game.

Villarreal midfielder Alex Baena, 22, is another potential debutant for the UEFA Nations League champions.

De la Fuente also included Braga striker Abel Ruiz, who appeared twice for his country in 2021 when the U21 players played because of Covid protocol at the time forcing senior stars to isolate.

“Lamine Yamal’s age did not give me any doubts, for me he’s great, there’s no problem with age,” said De la Fuente.

“These players advance at a much quicker pace than other players. We have to give him the chance to keep growing, he’s got a long way to go.”

Earlier Friday the Spanish football federation announced left-back Jordi Alba’s retirement from international duty, with Alejandro Balde and Jose Luis Gaya selected in that position.

“Jordi Alba won me over in the Nations League,” added De la Fuente.

The 34-year-old captained Spain in the tournament, beating Croatia in the final.

“He told me he did not want to continue and wanted to focus on his club — we were still counting on him.”

La Roja are without injured Barcelona midfielder Pedri, who has been a key player in recent years.

Spain visit Georgia on September 8 before hosting Cyprus four days later.

The Spanish football federation is currently operating under interim president Pedro Rocha, after chief Luis Rubiales was provisionally suspended by FIFA for his forcible kiss on the lips of Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso.

Spain squad

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Real Madrid), David Raya (Arsenal/ENG).

Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Atletico Madrid), Robin Le Normand (Real Sociedad), David Garcia (Osasuna), Pau Torres (Aston Villa/ENG), Aymeric Laporte (Al Nassr/KSA), Alejandro Balde (Barcelona), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia).

Midfielders: Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City/ENG), Martin Zubimendi, Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Fabian Ruiz (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Gavi (Barcelona), Alex Baena (Villarreal).

Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Joselu (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (PSG), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig/GER), Lamine Yamal (Barcelona), Abel Ruiz (Braga/POR).

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