Spain caused a European Championship stir by leaving captain Sergio Ramos out of the squad for this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament on Monday.
Coach Luis Enrique omitted the skipper, won the last of his 180 caps in March, but his season at Real Madrid has been blighted by injury.
Enrique called up centre-back Aymeric Laporte, who recently switched his football nationality to Spain from France.
Ramos, the 35-year-old Real Madrid captain, “has not been able to compete this season, especially since January,” Luis Enrique said.
Laporte, a 26-year-old Manchester City defender, was called up to the France squad three times but never made an appearance for Les Bleus.
“I’ve not included Ramos because he’s not been able to play much this season, especially since January he’s not been fit enough, and at times not even training with the group at his club,” Enrique, who named 24 players in the 26 spots available, told a news conference.
“It wasn’t easy, but I called him last night and we had a difficult and tough conversation. I feel bad as he’s a player who has always been at the top level and has a future with the national team. It’s a decision that I’ve taken for the good of the national team and the group as a whole.”
Ramos’s team mate Dani Carvajal also missed out through injury, meaning there are no Real players among the squad, while there were just three Barcelona players and two from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez said on social media he had asked to be left out of the squad to due “not being physically or mentally at the level required” for selection.
There was a surprise recall for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, who won the last of his 25 caps in 2018, and Atletico midfielder Marcos Llorente was included as a full-back in the squad list.
Premier League duo Thiago Alcantara and Rodrigo were included among the midfielders, alongside Sergio Busquets, Koke, Fabian Ruiz and 18-year-old Pedri.
Wolves forward Adama Traore and Paris St Germain’s Pablo Sarabia were surprise inclusions as forwards ahead of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas, the second-highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga this season.
Euro 2020, which has been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, starts on June 11.
Spain, who face Portugal and Lithuania in friendlies at the start of next month, are in Group E alongside Sweden, Slovakia and Poland.
Spain Euro 2020 squad
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton) Defenders: Pau Torres (Villarreal), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid) Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo (Manchester City), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), Pedri (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli) Forwards: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adam Traore (Wolverhampton), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Sarabia (Paris St Germain)