Monday June 21, 2021

Spain call 11 U21 players into alternative 'bubble' ahead of Euro 2020

Published : 09 Jun 2021, 20:42

  DF News Desk

Spain's coach Luis Enrique reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match between Spain and Greece in Granada, Spain, on March 25, 2021. File Photo: Xinhua.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Wednesday named 11 players from the Spain Under-21 squad to make up a 'separate training bubble' in case the outbreak of COVID-19 in the original 24-man squad named by coach Luis Enrique for the European Championships gets any worse, reported Xinhua.

Two players in the 'main' squad - Diego Llorente and Sergio Busquets, have so far tested positive for the coronavirus with Llorente's positive confirmed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and the fear is that the virus could have affected more members of the playing and technical staff with more cases discovered by rounds of PCR tests in the coming days.

Spain coach Luis Enrique called six players - Pablo Fornals, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Rodrigo Moreno, Carlos Soler, Brais Mendez and Raul Albiol, into an alternative squad at the start of the week and has now the U21 players. Alvaro Fernandez, Oscar Mingueza, Marc Cucurella, Bryan Gil, Juan Miranda, Gonzalo Villar, Pozo, Brahim Diaz, Martin Zubimendi, Yeremy Pino and Javi Puado will join them.

The 11 all played in Tuesday's friendly against Lithuania in which Spain's youngsters produced an impressive display to beat the Lithuanian senior team 4-0, with Puado, Brahim, Miranda and Hugo Guillamon, who has not been included, all scoring.

In order to avoid any risk of infection, the alternative squad will have no contact with the original squad named by Luis Enrique and some or all of them could be called on to take part in the forthcoming European Championships depending on whether or not there are any more positives in the coming days.

Spain have until June 14, the day of their opening game against Sweden to make any changes to their squad due to COVID-19 after UEFA extended the previous cutoff date of June 12.

Luis Enrique has implied he is prepared to wait for Busquets, who has to remain in isolation for at least 10 days after testing positive on Sunday night, but if there are any more cases, the tournament would be too far advanced to make waiting for a player's recovery feasible.

Meanwhile, the Swedes have problems of their own with forward Dejan Kulusevski and midfielder Mattias Svanberg also testing positive for the virus on Tuesday.