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Diego Costa in line for Spain debut

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa could make his debut for Spain after being named in Vicente del Bosque’s 22-man squad for the World Cup holders’ friendly at home to Italy on 5 March. Costa completed the nationalisation process that allowed him to switch allegiances from Brazil to Spain in time for La Roja’s friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa last November, but was forced to miss both games due to injury.

He is now expected to make his bow on home soil at the Vicente Calderon after scoring 27 times in all competitions this season. Gerard Pique is the only significant absentee through injury from the final match Spain will play before Del Bosque names his squad to defend the World Cup in Brazil later this year.

However, there was disappointment for David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata as all three were left out. Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara is rewarded for his impressive form for the German Bundesliga champions with a call-up to the senior squad for the first time this season.

Torres’ Chelsea teammate Cesar Azpilicueta is also included for the first time since the Confederations Cup ahead of Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa.

Spain squad to play Italy on Wednesday 5 March:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich/GER), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli/ITA)

Midfielders: Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas (all Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/GER), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal/ENG)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo (both Manchester City/ENG), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)