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Maiden Spain call for Athletic teenager Muniain

Published: Friday 24 February 2012, 14.50CET
A day after firing Athletic Club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16, Iker Muniain has been included in the Spain squad for the first time for Wednesday's friendly with Venezuela.
Maiden Spain call for Athletic teenager Muniain
Iker Muniain (L) celebrates one of his three UEFA Europa League goals this season ©Getty Images
 
Published: Friday 24 February 2012, 14.50CET

Maiden Spain call for Athletic teenager Muniain

A day after firing Athletic Club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16, Iker Muniain has been included in the Spain squad for the first time for Wednesday's friendly with Venezuela.

Athletic Club forward Iker Muniain has enjoyed the perfect end to a memorable week by receiving his first senior international call-up for Spain's friendly against Venezuela on Wednesday in Malaga.

Vicente del Bosque announced his 24-man party at the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) headquarters in Madrid and as well as announcing Muniain's presence, the coach also revealed the inclusion of Valencia CF striker Roberto Soldado, last capped in June 2007.

Part of the squad that triumphed at the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, the 19-year-old Muniain has continued to impress at club level this term. On Thursday he scored the only goal of the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg against FC Lokomotiv Moskva – a week after he was on target in the first instalment of the tie – that set up a last-16 meeting with Manchester United FC.

Soldado, meanwhile, has registered 20 goals in all competitions for Valencia this season and will be hoping to make his third international appearance in Wednesday's match at La Rosaleda. Chelsea FC forward Fernando Torres and FC Barcelona's Pedro Rodríguez have been omitted, meanwhile.

"Torres and Pedro are [each] having a somewhat irregular season and we have to reward those who are doing well," said Del Bosque. "It's not a definitive list. There are three or four months to go, but, having said that, we have our limitations when it comes to choosing everybody.

"[Torres] is somebody we hold in high esteem. It hurts me to leave him out but I have to be fair to the kids who are pushing to get into the squad. [Muniain's inclusion] is like giving a nod to Athletic Club and to young players in general, so that they can see that getting into the Spain squad is not completely out of reach."

Spain begin the defence of their UEFA European Championship title against Italy in Gdansk on 10 June and complete their Group C campaign with games against the Republic of Ireland and Croatia.

Spain squad
Goalkeepers:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF), Víctor Valdés (FC Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool FC).

Defenders: Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid CF), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Club), Jordi Alba (Valencia CF).

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid CF), Javi Martínez (Athletic Club), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Cesc Fàbregas (FC Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Thiago Alcántara (FC Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Málaga CF), Jesús Navas (Sevilla FC), David Silva (Manchester City FC).

Forwards: Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club), Roberto Soldado (Valencia CF), Álvaro Negredo (Sevilla FC), Juan Mata (Chelsea FC), Iker Muniain (Athletic Club).

*Álvaro Negredo has withdrawn.

Last updated: 22/03/12 11.48CET

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