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Spain v Luxembourg: Holders close in on qualification

Spain will be looking to book their place at Euro 2016 when they host Luxembourg at Estadio Las Gaunas on Friday.

Vicente del Bosque’s men lead the way in Group C and will secure a spot in next year’s tournament in France should they take all three points against their 142nd-ranked opponents in Logrono,  La Rioja.

However, the coach has suffered a number of defensive withdrawals ahead of the fixture, the biggest blow being the loss of Sergio Ramos to a shoulder injury.

Dani Carvajal (knee), Inigo Martinez (muscular injury) and Bruno Soriano (knee) have also been forced out of the squad, with Mario Gaspar of Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao duo Mikel San Jose and Xabi Etxeita drafted in.

It was a call that Etxeita did not see coming, but he hopes to be given the chance to make his debut for the national team and start establishing himself as a regular.

“I was at home and was very excited when I got the call. It’s a surprise. I didn’t expect it,” he said in a press conference.

“I’m happy the coach has placed his trust in me and I’m happy to be in the squad.

“It has come as a 27-year-old. I’ve had to work hard for this.

“Of course I want to [debut]. I’ll try to do everything right during the week to get the chance.

“Hopefully I can be at the [Euro 2016] tournament. I am aware that I am here due to an injury, but I will try to be there.”

Spain, whose 4-0 win in their first clash with Luxembourg kick-started a six-game winning streak that has seen them score 12 goals unanswered, will also be without the injured Andres Iniesta.

Thiago Alcantara will vie with Isco to fill the position vacated by the Barcelona man, while Diego Costa is unavailable due to suspension.

A ban also rules Chris Philipps out for Luxembourg, with Luc Holtz’s men having nothing to play for after picking up just four points from eight fixtures in this qualifying campaign.

A 2-1 win over Macedonia last month is their only victory in their last 16 international outings.

Wed 7 Oct, 2015
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