Luis Enrique expressed sorrow for removing Jose Gaya from Spain’s World Cup squad but insisted he made the right call despite Valencia apparently claiming the left-back’s injury was minor.
Gaya was cut from the Spain selection last week after suffering an ankle injury in training, and although media reports at the time suggested his recovery would only be brief, Luis Enrique replaced him with Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde.
After returning home, Spanish publication AS reported Gaya’s club quickly declared him fit.
But when Luis Enrique addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of Spain’s World Cup opener against Costa Rica, the coach was adamant Gaya’s injury would have ruled him out for a chunk of the group stage at least.
For the Spain coach, doing without a player for so long was non-negotiable.
“With regard to Gaya, it happens everywhere,” Luis Enrique told reporters. “I have to make decisions.
“If I followed my heart based on his professionalism, he’d be here, but I can’t make decisions based on my heart. I have to use mind.
“In three games he’d not have been able to play 100 per cent. I have to make the best decision for the whole team and the whole country. Imagine if I’d listened to Valencia or what Gaya wanted, which was normal, and then imagine if [Jordi] Alba is injured.
“We’d start the World Cup with no left-back, then imagine what you’d say about me. You’d ask why we risked the situation.
“My mind said I should make the best decision for the team, and there’s no doubt the best is to have two fully fit full-backs for the World Cup.”
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