Reina bemoans Villa absence

The country's record goalscorer has been ruled out of this summer's proceedings in Poland and Ukraine with the broken leg he suffered during the Club World Cup
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Pepe Reina has admitted that David Villa's unavailability for Euro 2012 is a major blow for Spain, explaining that the Barcelona forward is a positive influence both on and off the field.

The country's all-time record goalscorer was forced to admit defeat last week in his battle to recover in time from the fractured tibia he suffered during the Club World Cup in December.

"I have wanted to give him a hug because I have not seen him recently," Reina is quoted as saying by Marca. "But we talk every day and soon I will be able to give him a hug.

"The group will miss him, both as a player and a person. But we have no other option but to encourage him and hope that he returns as soon as possible."

While Reina was unable to comfort Villa in person, he was on hand to support Roberto Soldado, who was excluded from Vicente del Bosque's 23-man squad for Poland and Ukraine.

"We went to have a coke and I told him that in the future he will definitely have many opportunities with the national team," he explained.

"I know that for him and the other guys it was not easy to continue with us for these past four days [after the squad announcement], but they have to maintain their enthusiasm and keep fighting."

Spain will open their campaign against Italy, whose preparations have been overshadowed by the enforced withdrawal of left-back Domencio Criscito due to his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

Reina admits that he does know the full ins and outs of the story, but the controversy has taken him by surprise.

"We do not have much knowledge of what is happening but it is obviously not normal," the Liverpool goalkeeper confessed.

"Photos have come out and it's a surprise. We'll see what happens but, of course, we are surprised."

Defending champions Spain also have Republic of Ireland and Croatia for company in Euro 2012 Group C.