- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

MADRID (AP) - Striker Diego Costa was called up by Spain on Friday for European Championship qualifying despite the fitness concerns of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Costa was chosen in the 23-man squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers at Slovakia on Thursday and at Luxembourg on Oct. 12.

Mourinho complained that his team’s top scorer was being worn down by too many games for club and country.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque defended his selection, saying “he is fine, and he is playing all his games.”

“If we had thought he wasn’t in playing condition we wouldn’t have forced him. In any given moment something can happen to a player in a game or in practice, but we have never forced anyone to play. They always come after both the player and the doctors have given their consent.”

Del Bosque also included Bayern Munich’s 21-year-old Juan Bernat, who can play both back and winger on the left side, and 23-year-old Valencia forward Rodrigo Moreno for the first time as Spain continues its rejuvenation following its World Cup disappointment.

Del Bosque dropped promising Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi, Real Madrid midfielder Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, and Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose

Costa has formed a part of Del Bosque’s squad since the World Cup. But the Brazilian-born striker has been plagued by injuries that have kept him from having the same success for Spain that he has enjoyed with his clubs. He wasn’t fully fit going to the World Cup in Brazil and couldn’t help avoid Spain’s debacle when it lost its first two games to put a quick end to its title defense.

Costa was back in Del Bosque’s squad, after his move from Spanish champion Atletico Madrid to Chelsea, for the friendly against France last month, only to injure his left hamstring in a 1-0 loss. That ruled him out of Spain’s 5-1 thrashing of Macedonia in its first European qualifier.

Spain, the two-time defending European champion, also has Ukraine and Belarus in Group C.



Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David de Gea (Manchester United), Kiko Casilla (Espanyol)

Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Raul Garcia (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Paco Alcacer (Valencia), David Silva (Manchester City), Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich)

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