Spain coach Luis Enrique has dismissed questions over why he has called up only one Barcelona player for next week’s matches against Wales and England.
Spain’s 23-man squad includes four Real Madrid players but midfielder Sergio Busquets is the only player from Enrique’s former team to get the call.
“That’s a question from the press, but nobody on the street asks me these things,” Enrique said. “They want Spain to win. Here are the 23 players on the national team, which is my team. It is not about the clubs.”
Enrique had named only two Barcelona players in his previous squad following Gerard Pique’s international retirement, but a thigh injury for Sergi Roberto leaves Busquets as the sole representative of the LaLiga champions.
It is the continued absence of left-back Jordi Alba which has surprised the most, but Enrique was not prepared to explain his decision today.
“I’m not talking about those who are not here,” he said. “It’s not a taboo subject but I’m not going to talk about them.”
With Alba again missing, there is a call-up for Wolves’ uncapped full-back Jonny Otto, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.
The 24-year-old has played for Spain at several youth levels but despite getting one previous senior call-up, in 2015, he is yet to earn a full cap.
Otto’s selection comes just a few days after he scored his first Wolves goal in the 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.
Though Otto is naturally right-sided, it was Enrique who first played him at left-back when he coached him at Celta Vigo in 2013-14.
Enrique pointed to Otto’s ability to play on either side of defence as a key attribute.
“(Cesar) Azpilicueta plays right-back, and Jonny can do it,” he said. “I can choose a side, do what I want, that’s why I’ve chosen these players.”
Otto is one a number of players bought in by Enrique to cope with injuries. Also coming in are Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer, Real Betis defender Marc Bartra and Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke.
There is a strong Premier League presence in the squad besides Otto, thanks largely to Chelsea quartet Kepa Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, and Alvaro Morata – with Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea taking the total to six.
Morata, who has scored only one goal this season, keeps his place in the side with Diego Costa’s hopes of a recall ended by an injury suffered on Champions League duty with Atletico Madrid Wednesday night.
Spain face Wales in a friendly in Cardiff on October 11 before a Nations League clash with England in Seville four days later.
“A friendly gives me the options to try things that I want,” Enrique said. “But the vital one is England.”