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Casillas left out of new Spain coach's first squad

AFP , Friday 26 Aug 2016
Iker Casillas
Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas stops the ball during a training session at the Sports Complex Marcel Gaillard in Saint Martin de Re in France, Friday, June 24, 2016 (AP)
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New Spain coach Julen Lopetegui on Friday left out veteran captain Iker Casillas, the country's most-capped player, from his first squad as manager for upcoming internationals against Belgium and Liechtenstein.

"Iker is an absolute reference for the squad, a true icon yesterday, today and I hope tomorrow for Spanish football," Lopetegui told a news conference to announce his first squad since taking over from Vicente del Bosque in July.

"But we decided that our first-choice goalkeeper will be David de Gea. In any case we are not closing the goor (to Casillas) and will continue to track his performance, but have decided not to include him in this list."

Casillas, 35, has won two European Championships and the World Cup over the course of his 167 senior appearances for his country.

Spain take on Belgium in a friendly in Brussels on September 1, which is Lopetegui's first game in charge, and four days later host Liechtenstein at home in Leon in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier.

A former goalkeeper who started a handful of games for Real Madrid and Barcelona, Lopetegui played for Spain in the 1994 World Cup and coached Spain's youth squads from 2010-14. He also coached Casillas at Porto last season.

He said during his presentation that he would oversee an "evolution" rather than a "revolution" of the national team, who were eliminated from Euro 2016 by Italy in the last 16.

Casillas was relegated to the substitutes bench behind Manchester United's De Gea during Spain's 2-0 defeat to the Italians which ended their hopes of a third consecutive European Championship crown.

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