Ander Herrera earns call up to Spain squad

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Ander Herrera has been called up to Spain’s national team squad ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Albania, replacing the injured Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid.

Herrera had been used as an option off the bench in the first few weeks of the season, but has forced his way into the side to form a partnership with Paul Pogba in Manchester United’s midfield. Recent impressive performances in a relatively unfamiliar role as a holding midfielder have not gone unnoticed, as he has now been rewarded with the opportunity to collect his first cap for Spain.

He has made 30 appearances for Spain’s under 20, under 21 and under 23 side, but has never been called up to the senior side due to the excess of choices available to national team selectors.

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Spanish boss Julen Lopetegui has named a squad with many new faces, including the likes of Jose Callejon, the Napoli midfielder who has not appeared for his national team since two brief substitute appearances in 2014. His domestic form has also been rewarded, having scored five league goals from seven appearances in Serie A.

Spain travel to Italy on Thursday, in what will be a re-match of their Euro 2016 Round of 16 Knockout clash, where Italy prevailed 2-0 in an efficient performance. The Italians will be without one of their goal scorers from that game, though, as Giorgio Chiellini misses out after receiving his first international red card in Italy’s 3-1 win over Israel.

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Squads: Spain

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

Defenders: Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)

Midfielders: Koke (Atletico Madrid), Ander Herrera (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich)

Attackers: Nolito (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Jose Callejon (Napoli), Vitolo (Sevilla)

Squads: Italy

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Matti Perin (Genoa)

Defenders: Giorgio Chiellini* (Juventus), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Alessandro Romagnoli (AC Milan), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham)

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Domenico Criscito (Zenit), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Marco Verratti (PSG)

Attackers: Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Eder (Inter), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng), Nicola Sansone (Villarreal)

*Misses the fixture against Spain, but is available for their next match against FYROM.

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