Thiago Alcantara is excited to return to action with the Spanish national team in their Euro 2016 qualifier against Luxembourg on Saturday, 19 months after his last cap.
The Bayern Munich star missed the majority of last season with a serious knee injury picked up towards the end of the 2013-14 campaign, which ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup.
However, since completing his comeback in April and steadily gaining match sharpness with Bayern, the former Barcelona midfielder is once again back in contention at international level.
And the 24-year-old believes his latest call-up – his first since March 2014 – is a reward for both his persistence while recovering and his fine form at Bayern.
He told reporters: “After a long injury the hardest part is to get a grasp of the rhythm again. In each [squad] selection I have been anxiously waiting to be summoned.
“It’s special for any player returning to a team like this. I counted the days to come back here and I take it as a double award, both for my recovery and for what I’m doing in my team [Bayern].”
Valencia forward Paco Alcacer joined Thiago during his press conference and allayed fears that Gerard Pique will once again receive a hostile reception on Saturday.
The centre-back’s continued vocal support for Catalan independence has riled some in Spain and resulted in jeers during September’s defeat of Slovakia in Oviedo, but Alcacer revealed everyone in the squad received a good reception in Logrono.
He added: “We have seen a quieter and much better reception. In Logrono we had a good reception, including Gerard.”