Spain coach Luis Enrique has recalled Jordi Alba to the national team for upcoming games against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Luis Enrique, who had omitted the Barcelona left-back in his previous two squad selections, said this week that Alba was playing “at a very high level,”, but that he did not feel pressured into recalling him.
“By norm, I don’t take decision based on public outcry,” Luis Enrique said in Thursday’s news conference. “Nothing has changed with respect to the previous squad selections.
“There’s no one that knows Alba as well as I do from a professional standpoint. I’ve said all along I’ve never had any personal issues with any player and I stand by that. All the decisions I’ve made have been for professional reasons and for the good of the national team.
“There wasn’t a specific time when I decided about [bringing back] Alba.”
A regular at the World Cup in Russia, Alba has started in 14 games in all competitions for Barca this season.
The recall comes shortly after remarks were made by Alba’s Barca teammate, defender Gerard Pique, who asked Luis Enrique to rectify his mistake and include the player.
Alba is one of 24 players selected for the trip to Zagreb to face Croatia on Nov. 15 in a UEFA Nations League encounter and for the friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Gran Canaria three days later.
Borussia Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer, who started in his team’s 2-0 Champions League defeat at Atletico Madrid, has been dropped, as have Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, Nacho, Raul Albiol, Marc Bartra and Koke.
Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals returns for the first time since May 2016 when he made his senior debut, while Espanol defender Mario Hermoso and Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez have earned their first call-ups.
Hermoso is among the reasons why Espanyol have the second best defensive record in La Liga behind Atletico Madrid.
“There are a few new faces in the squad and it shows that there is a big number of players that can make the squad.” Luis Enrique said. “I think it’s a beautiful game [against Croatia] to prepare and to play. We have no other option but to win. We depend on ourselves.
“In the UEFA Nations League, we are playing against the two best national teams in the world. I ‘m eager to see my players play in a hostile atmosphere, with a team that also needs to win. We have to play attacking football and score goals.”
Alvaro Morata, who has scored three goals in Chelsea’s last two league games, wins at Burnley and at home to Crystal Palace, maintains his spot in attack.
Spain welcome back Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez, Real Sociedad’s Diego Llorente, Real Madrid midfielder Isco and Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto from injuries, but Dani Carvajal and Diego Costa are still out.
La Roja won their opening two UEFA Nations League Group 4 games, scoring eight goals and conceding one, before losing 3-2 at home to England on Oct. 15 — Luis Enrique’s first loss since taking the reins after the World Cup this summer.
Full Spain squad:
Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Real Betis)
Defenders: Jonny Otto (Wolves), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mario Hermoso (Espnayol), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Brais Mendez (Celta Vigo), Rodri (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Pablo Fornals (Villarreal), Saul (Atletico Madrid), Suso (AC Milan), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid)
Forwards: Rodrigo (Valencia), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)