David Villa dropped for Spain's final World Cup qualifiers as Mata exile continues

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The striker was recalled for the fixtures earlier in September but has been left out this time around, with Ander Herrera another that's not selected

Julen Lopetegui has decided to leave David Villa out of his latest Spain squad, while Juan Mata and Ander Herrera are again missing from the squad.

Spain 7/1 to win WC

Villa earned a shock recall earlier in September after impressing over the last few seasons in Major League Soccer, where he claimed the league's Most Valuable Player award in 2016. 

However, he picked up an injury on international duty last month and though he has since returned to action for New York City FC, Villa has not found the net since his recovery.

As a consequence, Lopetegui felt Napoli's Jose Callejon was more deserving of a place in his 25-man squad for the qualifiers against Albania and Israel, with Manchester United duo Mata and Herrera also missing out.

"David has been left out because he is not at the same rhythm that he had when he joined us," Lopetegui told a media conference.

"The injury he picked up while with us has not allowed him to play regularly and at the same level.

"I felt there were other players that were in better form. Callejon is playing well and finding the net easily."

Meanwhile, Lopetegui included Barcelona defender Pique, who on Thursday tweeted his backing for Catalan independence and called for a peaceful expression of opinions ahead of the planned referendum this weekend.

Pique has long been a supporter of the region breaking away from Spain and that has occasionally seen him heckled by his own fans while on international duty.

However, Lopetegui has no concerns over the 30-year-old defender's commitment to the team.

"Pique will train with us and I cannot say anything more about that," he said.

"Gerard gives his all when he comes to play with us. I have no doubt with [the commitment] of Pique.

"We are not going to let anything or anyone distract our attention from these matches."

SPAIN SQUAD IN FULL

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli);

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Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid);

Midfielders: Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid);

Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Jose Callejon (Napoli), Rodrigo (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea).

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