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Spain coach Luis Enrique looks to youth in World Cup squad

MADRID, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — Spain coach Luis Enrique had few surprises when he named his 26-man squad for the World Cup on Friday from the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation just outside of Madrid.

The coach has picked a squad with an emphasis on youth, including players such as FC Barcelona trio Ansu Fati, Gavi and Pedri, and other youngsters such as Yeremy Pino, Hugo Guillamon and Nico Williams, while again ignoring calls to include Paris Saint Germain’s veteran Sergio Ramos.

There is the experience in defense, with Jordi Alba, Dani Carvajal and Cesar Azpilicueta all included, although there was no place for Athletic Club Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez, with Valencia’s Hugo Guillamon, who can also play in midfield if needed, given the nod.

Sergio Busquets could well start with his Barca teammates, Pedri and Gavi in midfield, while Rodri Hernandez, Carlos Soler, and Atletico Madrid duo Koke and Marcos Llorente have also been picked.

Atletico’s Alvaro Morata should lead an attack, but Enrique has opted against risking the fitness of Villarreal’s Gerrard Moreno and has instead picked players, such as Real Madrid’s Marcos Asensio, Barca’s Ferran Torres, Yeremy Pino, Pablo Sarabia, and Dani Olmo, who can all adapt to a variety of roles.

The Spanish fly to play a friendly game in Jordan on November 17 before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Costa Rica on November 23. They play Germany on November 27, with the final group match against Japan on December 1.

On paper, Spain and Germany should get out of their group, but a Japan team that contains players with plenty of experience at top-level European clubs could be the surprise package in the group.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Club), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford).

Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia).

Midfield: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo Hernandez (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Gavi (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico), Marcos Llorente (Atletico), Carlos Soler (PSG).

Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Atletico), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Nico Williams (Athletic Club), Pablo Sarabia (PSG), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal), Ansu Fati (Barcelona).