Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque still has faith in Diego Costa, but called on the volatile Chelsea striker to “smooth out his character”.
Costa is in line to make his international return against England on the back of a six-match scoreless run at club level for the misfiring Premier League champions.
The 27-year-old was suspended for Spain’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Luxembourg last month and as a result did not feature in Del Bosque’s squad for the closing match of his country’s successful campaign against Ukraine three days later.
The Brazilian-born forward has endured a disappointing international career for Spain, with a solitary goal from nine caps, while his domestic performances this season have arguably become more noticeable for on-field confrontations with opponents.
Nevertheless, Del Bosque insists Costa is in his squad on merit and offered sympathy for the impact of Chelsea’s plight on his player’s form, with Jose Mourinho’s men sitting 16th.
“We all know his character and we don’t feel we pick him because we owe him anything,” Del Bosque said.
“He was picked because we believe in him, it is a question of confidence.
“Maybe he should smooth out his character and his behaviour, but we believe in him.
“I think when a team isn’t playing well it’s not down to a single element and with Chelsea not playing well this season all of their elements are being affected by it.”
Del Bosque refused to confirm whether it would be Iker Casillas or David de Gea starting in goal for the match in Alicante, while he conceded that Gerard Pique is once again set to face booing from his own supporters.
Pique’s standing with Spain fans has fallen over recent months, during which time the Barcelona defender expressed his support for Catalan independence.
“I’d be surprised if it [the booing] had changed,” Del Bosque said. “There seems to be a current nowadays which is very hard to change.”
England head into the match having won all 10 of their Euro 2016 qualifiers and Del Bosque expects a tough encounter.
“They are a great team with great players so if they were a bit more organised then they would be really great,” he added.
“But also they have won 10 games in the qualifiers so we know they are good.”