Santi Cazorla’s recall to the Spain squad is reward for his fine season with Villarreal, according to stand-in coach Robert Moreno.
The former Arsenal midfielder has rediscovered top form and fitness since returning to LaLiga, earning him a first international call in four years for Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands on June 7 and Sweden three days later.
Moreno, deputising with Luis Enrique absent for personal reasons, said in a press conference broadcast on the national team’s Twitter feed: “(Cazorla) is here because of his performances, which have been very good since the beginning of the season.
“That makes us especially happy. Cazorla is exemplary, because he has had to go through something very hard for a player: injury.”
Cazorla played only 23 league games across his final two seasons in north London due to a serious and recurring Achilles problem, which almost forced him to retire.
But he has bounced back this season, scoring seven goals in 45 appearances in all competitions and helping the Yellow Submarine to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal also returns for the first time since making his only senior international appearance as a substitute against Switzerland in 2016.
Oyarzabal, like Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz, will join the under-21 team at the European Championship after the two qualifiers but Valencia forward Rodrigo and Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio will not be available to the age-group team.
Isco returns after missing March’s opening qualifiers against Norway and Malta as Real provide four players to Barcelona’s three.
Moreno added: “Isco is a player who can make the difference. Luis Enrique said he is a very important player in the national team, but that depends on whether he plays or not.
“Under (Real boss Zinedine) Zidane he has played again and we are delighted that he is back with us.”
Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga will compete for the goalkeeping jersey with Manchester United’s David De Gea.
De Gea’s recent form has been widely criticised but Moreno said: “If he’s on the list, it’s because he can be a starter.
“Criticism against a player of the national team does not please us but we do not follow the criticism, his actions are where the decisions are made.”
Spain squad to face the Faroe Islands and Sweden: De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Real Betis); Ramos, Carvajal (both Real Madrid), Llorente (Real Sociedad), Hermoso (Espanyol), Gaya (Valencia), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Alba, Sergi Roberto (both Barcelona); Busquets (Barcelona), Navas (Sevilla), Cazorla (Villarreal), Parejo (Valencia), Rodri (Atletico Madrid), Fabian (Napoli); Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Isco, Asensio (both Real Madrid), Rodrigo (Valencia), Aspas (Celta Vigo), Morata (Atletico Madrid, on loan from Chelsea).
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