Valencia striker Roberto
Soldado looks to be in prime position to deny Fernando Torres a
place at Euro 2012 after earning the chance to impress the coach
when world champions Spain host Venezuela in a friendly on
The 26-year-old returns to the national team after a
five-year absence as coach Vicente del Bosque weighs up his
striking options for the defence of their European title in
Poland and Ukraine in June.
"I knew it would be difficult to return to the national team
but at last it has happened," Soldado told reporters as he
joined up with the rest of the squad on Monday.
"For a striker, it is the numbers which dictate whether you
are here or not. I have scored an important number of goals and
I hope I can continue to score to be with the national team.
"The competition [for a place] is very tough and there are
three months left which will determine whether I will be at Euro
2012 or not. I hope I can rise to the occasion and make the most
of this opportunity.
"We know how important Fernando Torres is to the team and we
hope he will be at Euro 2012, but I am also going to give my all
to be there too."
Torres, the scorer of the winner in the Euro 2008 final, has
struggled for form since returning from injury in 2010 and Del
Bosque reluctantly left him out of the squad on Friday. He has
scored four goals for Chelsea this season.
"I speak to Fernando a lot. It's a difficult time for him
and he was very keen to be here with us," Liverpool goalkeeper
Pepe Reina told reporters.
"His form will return, I'm sure, but it is the boss who
draws up the list."
Soldado has scored 12 goals in La Liga, one behind fellow
international and Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, who
is probably assured of his place having helped the team to
success at the World Cup in 2010.
Spain's all-time leading scorer David Villa is recovering
from a broken leg and is due to return to action in April or May
just ahead of the Euros. Del Bosque has already indicated the
Barcelona forward will go if fit.
Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo has had an inconsistent
campaign and was forced out of the Spain squad on Monday with a
thigh injury which could keep him sidelined for up to four
weeks, his club said in a statement.
Bilbao's 19-year-old livewire Iker Muniain is Del Bosque's
other striking option against Venezuela and he could make his
debut in Malaga.
Further pressure on Torres's place comes from Spain's
astonishing strength in depth in the midfield, where the likes
of David Silva, Juan Mata and Cesc Fabregas can move into more
offensive positions when required.
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