Football: Del Bosque offers glimpse of Spain's future in Ecuador friendly

MADRID (REUTERS) - Spain football coach Vicente del Bosque rewarded a number of younger players with call-ups to an experimental 21-man squad for next Wednesday's friendly away to Ecuador in Guayaquil.

The world and European champions return to action for the first time since losing the Confederations Cup final 0-3 to Brazil on June 30, but del Bosque had already given prior notice that he would be checking out some different names.

Regulars such as Gerard Pique, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Fernando Torres were left out and replaced by fringe players and members of Spain's Under-21 side, who were crowned European champions in Israel in June.

Real Madrid's new 30-million euro (S$50-million) playmaker Isco, and Bayern Munich's new midfield recruit Thiago Alcantara, signed from Barcelona for 25 million euros, were among those called up after outstanding performances in Israel.

"We are at the start of the season and there are many factors we need to take into account," del Bosque told the national team's official website on Friday.

"It isn't just a friendly. It is an international match that acts as a stepping stone towards Sept 6 when we play in Finland.

"Finland is a very important game because if we win it is an important step forward. We then have two games at home. We only have three left, we are ahead of France, but it would be a big mistake to be careless."

Spain are on course to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Brazil next year as they top Group I with 11 points from five games, a point ahead of France.

They play third-placed Finland in Helsinki before visits from Belarus and Georgia complete their group games.

Del Bosque handed first-time call-ups to Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez and Barcelona winger Cristian Tello, who along with Isco and Thiago, helped the Under-21 side to victory in June.

With Torres and David Villa left out, Manchester City's new striker Alvaro Negredo and Juventus' new recruit Fernando Llorente have the chance to stake claims again for next year's trip to Brazil.


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

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real), Sergio Ramos (Real), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders: Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Isco (Real), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Koke (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Jesus Navas (Manchester City), David Silva (Man City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Man City), Fernando Llorente (Juventus), Cristian Tello (Barcelona)