Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has wished David Villa a speedy recovery after the New York City FC striker suffered an injury while on international duty.
But Villa, who came on as a late substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Italy, has been ruled out for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Lichtenstein through an adductor strain sustained in training.
“We are very happy with the result against Italy, a direct rival that demanded excellence from us,” Lopetegui told Onda Cero.
“The only sad news is Villa’s injury. He was training so well in Sunday’s session but unfortunately in the last play of practice, he felt something.
“We were initially optimistic as tests showed no significant damage and we thought that he could feel better in 48 hours but in the afternoon, he felt worse.
“We decided he would not travel to Lichtenstein but instead return to his club.”
Lopetegui was ready to hand the former Barcelona striker his 99th cap for Spain on Tuesday.
“He played a few minutes against Italy and he was ready to play against Lichstenstein,” Lopetegui added.
“I wish him a speedy recovery, to get better in order for him to maintain that level that has allowed him to return to the national team.
“I don’t think he will be ready to play for his club on Wednesday [against Sporting KC] but he could be available in time for Saturday’s game [at home to Portland].”
Orgulloso de haber disfrutado de esto y desear mucha suerte a @sefutbol para el martes.
— David Villa (@Guaje7Villa) September 3, 2017
Disappointed to leave the Spain squad early, Villa later tweeted: “I’m proud to have enjoyed this and I wish the national team luck on Tuesday.”
Spain are three points clear of nearest rivals Italy at the top of Group G with three World Cup qualifying games remaining.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.