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Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin Not in Spain Squad to Face Italy and Albania

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2016

Spain's midfielder Cesc Fabregas controls the ball during Euro 2016 round of 16 football match between Italy and Spain at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on June 27, 2016.   / AFP / PHILIPPE LOPEZ        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/Getty Images

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui has left Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin out of his squad for the team's upcoming international fixtures. 

The 23 players for the matches against Italy and Albania were confirmed via the team’s official Twitter feed on Friday, with no space for Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta or Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata either:

Selección Española de Fútbol @SeFutbol

OFICIAL | 📝 Lista de la @SeFutbol para los partidos contra #ITA🇮🇹 y #ALB🇦🇱 / Spain's call up https://t.co/DgVxyuQTYr

When quizzed about Fabregas’ omission, Lopetegui stated “we like a lot of players, and they can't all play,” per ESPN FC

Although Fabregas has long been a regular in the national team setup, accruing 105 caps, it’s no great surprise to see him left out.

Since Antonio Conte took over at Chelsea, the 29-year-old has found minutes very difficult to come by, making his first start of the Premier League season in the Blues’ sixth game, a 3-0 loss at Arsenal. With so many quality midfield options to call upon, the Spain boss can afford to be ruthless.

Bellerin has been in fine form this term.
Bellerin has been in fine form this term.Alex Morton/Getty Images

Bellerin’s omission is arguably a little more surprising, as he’s been in tremendous form for Arsenal so far this term. However, he has been included in Spain’s Under 21 squad, per the official Twitter feed.

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Mata may feel a little hard done by after a strong start to the campaign, although he too endured a spell on the bench before returning to United’s starting XI against Leicester City. As noted here by Squawka Football, he’s been a very positive influence at Old Trafford so far this campaign:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Man Utd's Premier League win % this season: When Mata starts (4 games): 100% When Mata doesn't start (2 games): 0% Key man. https://t.co/RbyjWy8MmH

La Roja will continue their push towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday, as they seek to gain a degree of revenge against Italy.

Under the guidance of Conte, the Azzurri were too smart and too organised for Spain in the last-16 of the UEFA European Championship in the summer, running out comfortable 2-0 winners. A win in Turin would put Lopetegui’s side in a strong position, having won their first Group G fixture 8-0 against Liechtenstein.

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