Spain v Uruguay
Azpilicueta had been a regular for Spain in recent years Reuters

Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has claimed he rates Cesar Azpilicueta very highly but has decided to leave the Chelsea star out of his squad for the upcoming games against Ukraine and the Netherlands due to the strength of competition among the full-backs.

The versatile Spanish full-back has become one of Jose Mourinho's favourites at Stamford Bridge since beating Ashley Cole last season for the left-back role, despite originally being a right-back.

And even though the Portuguese boss bolstered the position with the arrival of Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid this summer, Azpilicueta has remained as the first choice, starting 22 Premier League games this campaign.

However, Del Bosque has surprisingly decided to exclude him for the crucial European Championship qualifier against Ukraine in Seville on 27 March before a friendly with the Dutch on 31 March in Amsterdam.

Del Bosque has instead included Barcelona star Jordi Alba and Bayern Munich's Juan Bernat for the left-backs while Atletico Madrid's Juanfran and Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal will be his right-backs.

Azpilicueta has fallen out of favour with Del Bosque since the disappointing summer World Cup in Brazil.

The Chelsea full-back started during both humiliating defeats against the Netherlands and Chile and has since only played two friendlies against France and Germany, being an unused substitute in the European Championship qualifiers with Macedonia, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Belarus.

Asked about Azpilicueta's omission, he explained: "We rate him very highly, but the same thing also happened at right-back."

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"There are lads who could be called up, but others are blocking their way. We are well covered at left-back with Jordi Alba and Bernat. We have enough players there and we preferred not to call him," Del Bosque said.

Meanwhile, Del Bosque decided put an end to controversy over the lack of commitment of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa by including the duo in his squad.