Spain boss Luis Enrique to miss Euro qualifiers

Spain announced on Friday that Luis Enrique will continue his leave of absence and not coach the national team in next month's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Faroe Islands and Sweden.

The former Barcelona coach has been away from the team since March 26 for "serious personal reasons."

His assistant, Robert Moreno, who guided Spain in their 2-0 win over Malta in their last game, will continue at the helm.

Spain sporting director Jose Francisco Molina said in Friday's news conference at the national team headquarters in Las Rozas, Madrid: "As you can see Luis Enrique could not be here for the same reason he could not be at the last game.

He will not be in the training camp as well as in the next two games. I want to thank the media for the respect it has shown to Luis Enrique. I've seen reports this morning [that Spain are looking at options in the event Luis Enrique does not return]. Our commitment to our coach is total and that is what we have transmitted to him. I think it's mutual. We hope to have him for many years in charge. This is a difficult time for him and he has our support and our complete confidence."

Moreno added: "Since we returned from Malta, the dynamic has been the same. All the decisions that have been made and will be made will be done by Luis Enrique. Luis Enrique has monitored the players, met with us via video conference and looked at games.

"This is like the No. 10 of your team getting injured and you have to react and we want to give more to repay Luis Enrique's trust in us."

The biggest surprise in the latest squad is the return of former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla, who is back after a three-and-a-half year absence.

A 2008 and 2012 European Championship winner, Cazorla has overcome a career-threatening injury and impressed with Villarreal this season, scoring four goals and setting up 10 more in 34 league appearances.

The 34-year-old last featured for Spain in Nov. 2015 before undergoing a total of 11 surgeries on his right Achilles in the space of 21 months. He joined Villarreal as a free agent last summer following the conclusion of his contract with Arsenal.

Moreno said: "Cazorla is an example for everyone. Santi's case is exemplary. We are particularly happy because he's had to experience something that is very tough for a footballer to be 141 games injured. I hope destiny rewards him with a 141 games more to help his club and the national team. His performance has been great since the start of the season and that surprised us. He is here because of his performances.

Real Madrid midfielder Isco returns to the squad after being left out of the March qualifiers due to a lack of playing time with his club under former coach Santiago Solari.

Spain captain Sergio Ramos is in the squad despite not having played for Real Madrid since April 3 due to a calf injury. Both Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal and Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas missed Spain's opening two European Group C qualifiers, a 2-1 victory against Norway and a 2-0 triumph at Malta through injury but are back on the roster.

Spain have named uncapped Real Sociedad forward Mikel Oyarzabal in the 23-man squad. The 22-year-old has scored 13 goals in 36 league appearances for the Basque outfit.

When asked about the possibility of Kepa Arrizabalaga starting in goal ahead of David De Gea, who has received criticism in recent months, Moreno said: "If he [Kepa] is in the list, it's because he can be a starter. We don't like to hear criticisms of one of our players but we don't follow criticisms but rather performances and take decisions based on that."

Spain begin training on May 27 and play at Faroe Islands on June 7 before hosting Sweden in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium three days later.

Spain squad

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Real Betis).

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli), Dani Parejo (Valencia), Isco (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal)

Forwards: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo).