Spain national team manager Vicente del Bosque has left Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Arsenal's Santi Cazorla out of his 25-man preliminary squad ahead of Euro 2016 due to concerns over the Premier League duo's fitness. Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata, meanwhile, has also been overlooked to make way for the likes of Real Madrid academy star Lucas Vazquez and Atletico Madrid sensation Saul Niguez.
Just five Premier League-based players are included in the squad: Cesar Azpilicueta, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, David De Gea and David Silva. However, Del Bosque is unsure if Silva will make the final squad on 31 May due to concerns over his fitness following time on the sidelines.
The Euro 2008 and 2012 champions will play three friendlies in the preparation for the tournament in France, against Bosnia in Switzerland on 29 May, South Korea on 1 June in Salzburg and against Georgia in Getafe six days later. The Spain boss has been forced to name a 25-man initial squad, along with a further 11 youngsters. Many regular internationals will not be able to play the first two games as the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla are still involve in the finals of the Champions League, the Europa League and the Copa del Rey.
Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin is among the starlets who will feature with the rest of the Spanish squad during the coming weeks but are not expected to make summer trip to France. Del Bosque will use these games to make final adjudications before selecting his 23-man final roaster on 31 May.
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink already revealed last week that Costa could miss Euro 2016 due to recurrent problems with his hamstring. The striker was expected to be fit for the tournament but Del Bosque has decided to leave him and Cazorla out of the squad as he doesn't want to take any risk. However, the boss admitted he has already taken a gamble with both Silva and Lucas Vazquez as the City star and the Real Madrid winger are currently injured.
"We have evaluated all the situations," Del Bosque said when asked about the Chelsea number nine's omission. "We didn't want to select many players with an uncertain fitness situation. We have already brought two players in precarious conditions in Silva and Lucas Vázquez. We have chosen to bring them ahead of others. Lucas is not fit right now but we hope he recovers in time for the Euros. We had planned to bring him before he suffered an injury and therefore we have put him on the list of 25."
"Cazorla's case is very similar to Diego's. He has been injured for five months. He has made a tremendous effort to get well and we really appreciate it. He played 88 minutes at the weekend but we did not want to bring too many players in an uncertain fitness situation."
The absence of Juan Mata is more shocking one after the Manchester United playmaker served as a regular during qualification. Yet, as has been the case with Villarreal right-back Mario and Valencia's Paco Alcacer, Del Bosque has opted to replace them with other players who have ended the campaign in a better vein of form such as Vazquez himself Saul, Dani Carvajal and Aritz Aduriz.
Questioned about the absence of the Manchester United playmaker, Del Bosque replied: "There is a big competence. We had to remove some players from the list. We have to make decisions and sometimes they are painful."