Torres dropped, Morientes returns to Spain squad

November 10, 2006

MADRID, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres was dropped on Friday from the Spain squad for next Wednesday's friendly against Romania as Valencia's Fernando Morientes returned to the fold.

Torres has scored just twice in eight league games this season, but Morientes has hit a rich vein of form since joining Valencia from Liverpool in the close season and has notched up eight goals in all competitions.

It was the first time Torres has been left out of the squad since Luis Aragones took charge of the national side in 2004.

'The four forwards who are in the squad are in better form than Torres at the moment,' Aragones told a news conference.

'It is a friendly and we want to see some new things.'

Morientes won his last cap in a friendly international against Ivory Coast in March. He was not taken to the World Cup despite being one of the national side's most reliable performers having scored 26 goals in 43 appearances.

Once again there was no room for former national team skipper Raul, despite evidence that he has begun to rediscover his form at Real Madrid.

With leading players David Albelda, Pablo Ibanez, Xavi and Carles Puyol out injured or unavailable, the squad was packed full of new faces.

Deportivo Coruna striker Angel Arizmendi, a former substitute for Torres when he was at Atletico, centre-back Alberto Lopo, Valencia midfielder David Silva and Celta Vigo right back Angel all got their first call-ups.

The uncapped Sevilla centre-back Javi Navarro, who was called up under Aragones's predecessor Inaki Saez in March 2003 but never made his debut, was also included in the 20-strong squad.

Midfielders Marcos Senna and Borja Oubina returned to the squad, but wingers Jose Antonio Reyes and Joaquin and left back Mariano Pernia were left out.

'Nearly all the new players are Under-21 internationals and are in great form at the moment,' said Aragones.

'Silva, for example, is a player of extraordinary quality. He can play on the right and left and behind the striker.'

Spain have been struggling for form since their second round exit from the World Cup and lie in fifth place in Euro 2008 qualifying Group F following consecutive defeats to Northern Ireland and Sweden.

Wednesday's opponents Romania are third in Group G with seven points from three games, one behind Bulgaria and three behind the Netherlands who have both played a match more.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Antonio Lopez (Atletico Madrid), Juanito (Real Betis), Joan Capdevila (Deportivo Coruna), Alberto Lopo (Deportivo Coruna), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Javi Navarro (Sevilla), Angel (Celta Vigo)

Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Luis Garcia (Liverpool), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), Miguel Angel Angulo (Valencia), Marcos Senna (Villarreal), David Silva (Valencia), Borja Oubina (Celta Vigo)

Forwards: David Villa (Valencia). Angel Arizmendi (Deportivo Coruna), Fernando Morientes (Valencia)