Ander Herrera
Herrera could make his international debut this week. Getty

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has received his first call-up to the Spain squad ahead of World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Italy and Albania.

Herrera, 27, comes into the fold with Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielders Saul Niguez and Thiago Alcantara withdrawing due to injury. Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez has also been called into replace Bayern's Javi Martinez, who is also struggling with injury.

Julen Lopetegui told COPE: "We have called Inigo Martinez because Javi could not continue with us. He has been playing with an injury in recent days and suffered a setback in the last game. We have decided to bring Ander too because we have a couple of players with some niggles. We have decided to bring another player to see how they evolve in the coming days."

While he has often been used in a more attacking role during his time at Old Trafford, former Athletic Bilbao midfielder Herrera has reinvented himself this season into a more destructive presence in midfield. That transformation has seen him displace Marouane Fellaini in Jose Mourinho's starting XI with the Spaniard now often partnering Paul Pogba in United's midfield.

"I had to do a different role in the team and I think I can be important there for the manager," Herrera said in September. "I have spoken with the manager and we are agreed with that, that I can be an important player for the team and that I can help the team in that position. I think I can win a lot of balls back for the team. My instinct is to try to win the ball back for the team as quickly as possible."

Mourinho has been impressed with how Herrera has got to grips with a new role, insisting he is important to how he wants his side to play.

"Ander can be an important player for us, because we play with four attacking players plus Paul [Pogba] who likes a lot to go to different positions, to try and create," Mourinho said.

"But we need a player like Ander because he is very fast on the defensive transition, he can give us the security we need, especially against fast counter attacks."

Herrera has been capped for his country at under-20, under-21 and under-23 level, winning the 2011 Under-21 European Championship in 2011 alongside current United teammates David de Gea and Juan Mata, also scoring in the final.

Mata was one of the first people to congratulate Herrera on his call-up, tweeting just after the announcement:

Despite starting just one game for United this season, Memphis Depay has been included in the Netherlands squad for upcoming friendlies. The 22-year-old winger was left out of Danny Blind's squad in August but injury to Siem de Jong has seen him called in.

Matteo Darmian has also retained his place in the Italy squad despite also playing just one game this season.