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Soccer-Costa in Spain squad for Italy friendly

Reuters

* Brazil-born forward included for game in Madrid

* No place for Torres, Mata, Villa or Llorente

* Plenty of time to make World Cup, Del Bosque says (Adds quotes, background, byline)

By Iain Rogers

MADRID, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has called up Atletico Madrid's Brazil-born forward Diego Costa for the world and European champions' friendly against Italy on Wednesday and omitted Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.

Del Bosque emphasised that there was still time for players who were not selected, including the likes of Torres, Mata, David Villa and Fernando Llorente, to make the squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil starting in June.

The 32 nations taking part must send a preliminary list of 30 players to FIFA by May 13 and a definitive 23-man squad, with three goalkeepers, no later than June 2.

"This is a list only and exclusively for the match against Italy on Wednesday and does not commit us to anything," Del Bosque told a news conference on Friday.

"There are still almost three months of (club) competition left and we know that a lot could happen between now and then," added the 63-year-old, who is attempting to lead Spain to a fourth consecutive major tournament success.

The Iberian nation were European champions in 2008 and 2012 and won their maiden World Cup in 2010 and will attempt to become only the third nation to defend their world title after Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962.

Del Bosque included Costa in his squad for two friendlies in November but he had to withdraw due to injury and the Italy match, a repeat of the Euro 2012 final, could mark his first appearance for his adopted country.

The 25-year-old has scored 21 goals in La Liga this season, second only to Real Madrid's Portugual forward Cristiano Ronaldo on 22, and has struck five times in the Champions League to help Atletico to the brink of the quarter-finals.

Del Bosque's latest squad has a distinctly Brazilian flavour, with Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago Alcantara, the Italy-born son of former Brazil midfielder Mazinho, returning after injury.

Chelsea right back Cesar Azpilicueta was also included, with Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa missing out.

"We think Azpilicueta is playing well at Chelsea and we will take a closer look at him," Del Bosque said.

"The same with Thiago," he added.

"He is playing for Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe, and he is in the starting lineup despite the high degree of competition."

IMPROVED CHANCES

Torres and Mata have been regulars for Spain over the past few years but neither has played a major role at Chelsea under coach Jose Mourinho this season.

Mata's chances of going to the World Cup may improve after he left Chelsea last month to join their English Premier League rivals Manchester United.

Spain squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Victor Valdes (Barcelona)

Defenders: Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards: Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Pedro (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid) (Editing by Justin Palmer)

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