September 7, 2012
Spain v Saudi Arabia: Preview
Spain boss Vicente del Bosque admits David Villa could make his long-awaited return to the international scene in tomorrow's friendly meeting with Saudi Arabia.
The Barcelona striker helped the world champions reach this summer's European Championships before breaking his leg in December, ruling him out of Spain's successful defence of the title in Poland and Ukraine.
But the 30-year-old, who has scored a record 51 goals for Spain, has been included in Del Bosque's squad to face Georgia in Tuesday's opening World Cup qualifier, and could even be handed a run-out in tomorrow's warm-up game against the Falcons.
When asked about Villa's current fitness levels, Del Bosque told AS: "He's fine. He's had a very bad injury and just being here is a huge confidence boost for him.
"We wanted him to be involved in the squad and if he can play, he will.
"We have two games in September, two in October and one in November. That means we have to play five games, three of them being competitive.
"And I must admit, Georgia is a match that is not really a priority, but we must be responsible.
"And starting from tomorrow we have to prepare for it in the right way.
"It's more than a friendly, it's preparation for what lies ahead. We are determined not to struggle on the road to Brazil.''
Carles Puyol will not feature as he continues to recover from a fractured cheekbone suffered while playing for Barca, with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique expected to pair in the heart of defence.
Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso should form a three-man midfield at Pontevedra.
Andres Iniesta could partner Fernando Torres in attack as regular striker Alvaro Negredo was left out of the squad.
Torres has discovered a new lease of life with Chelsea and he is line to earn a century of caps against Frank Rijkaard's side.
"It is an honour for any player of this generation to play 100 games for the national team,'' Del Bosque added.
"I think (Santi) Cazorla has 45, Sergio Busquets, Pique, Iniesta and (David) Silva have 70-something.
"It's a great achievement to reach those kind of numbers.''
Saudi Arabia have already failed to qualify for the World Cup after winning just one of their qualifying matches in the Asian section.