Sergio Ramos and Ansu Fati were left out of Head Coach Luis Enrique’s squad on Friday ahead of Spain’s UEFA Nations League games against Switzerland and Portugal.
Enrique also excluded in-form forward Iago Aspas but called in the uncapped Borja Iglesias and Nico Williams.
The upcoming games are the last for Spain before Enrique chooses his World Cup squad, so all eyes were on whether former captain Ramos, particularly, would return to favour.
Ramos won a record 180 caps for Spain but may have played his final game for La Roja, unless Enrique has a change of heart before November.
The door has been left ajar, but time is running out for Ramos and Aspas.
“These players have been in the national team. They can return to the national team without any doubt,” Enrique said on Friday.
It might be a different story for Fati, who has been in favour when fit.
He is working his way back to his best shape at FC Barcelona after an injury-disrupted 2021/2022 campaign.
Fati has yet to start a La Liga game this season but has managed two goals and two assists when coming off the bench, in just 120 minutes of action.
Enrique said such limited action was telling at this stage, adding: “Hopefully we will see the best Ansu again, but today I don’t see him on the list.
“He is in the process of gaining confidence and improving after not playing for a long time.”
Speaking at a press conference, Enrique said: “Every time there is a squad list, what draws attention is those who aren’t in, but I prefer to talk about those who are.
“I have 25 players that I consider the best for these matches.”
Athletic Bilbao’s Williams, whose brother Inaki recently switched his football allegiance from Spain to Ghana, was hailed by Enrique as “a pure winger”, and a player the coaching staff wanted to see up close.
Enrique knows Real Betis forward Borja already, having previously coached him at Celta Vigo, and said he appreciated the 29-year-old’s “always-smiling style on the pitch”.
He has four La Liga goals already this term.
Aspas can probably make plans for November and December which do not involve Qatar 2022.
The veteran Celta Vigo striker has been an outstanding performer in La Liga and has five goals already this term in the competition, just one fewer than top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
However, the 35-year-old last played for Spain in 2019.
Spain face Switzerland at La Romareda in Zaragoza on Sept. 24, and tackle Portugal three days later in Braga.